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A REGIMENTAL SURG IN WAR AND PRISON

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M iM

A REGIMENTAL SURGEON IN WAR

AND PRISON

A REGIMENTAL SURGEON
IN

WAR AND PRISON

BY

CAPTAIN ROBERT

V.

DOLBEY,

M.B., M.S. (Lond.), F.R.C.S. (Eng.), Royal Army Medical Corps.

LONDON JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.


1917

[All rights reserved]

CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I.

PAGE

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE IN THE RETREAT

-----

II.

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


IN

14

III.

80
1 28

IV.

GERMAN HANDS

V.
VI.

CREFELD

MINDEN

-----

I46

166
172 208 235

VII.
VIII.

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


GUETERSLOH

IX.

HOME

PREFACE
These recollections of the fighting in France from August to November, 1914, do not pretend, in any way, to be an authentic history of the Campaign. They are merely the record of the work and wanderings of a
regimental medical officer in part of the Retreat, the Advance, at the Marne, the Aisne, and the righting at and near La Bassee.

There they come to an abrupt conclusion, for, in the grey dawn of a foggy October morning, I was taken prisoner and, with my

wounded, my orderlies and stretcher bearers, conducted through our long and eventful
pilgrimage into Germany. From the moment the miracle of the Marne occurred we had little doubt that nothing would stop our victorious progress to the Rhine. Little

think that the invasion of Germany, my part, would take place in so ignominious a fashion. When I say that the to which I had the honour of being regiment attached was the 2nd Battalion the King's Own Scottish Borderers, of the 13th Brigade,
did
I

on

vii

viii

PREFACE

and that ours was the Fifth Division, I may plead ample justification for these pages.
In this Division there were three Brigades, the 13th, 14th and 15th. None of the four battalions of the 13th Brigade, the
Scottish

Borderers,

Yorkshire

Light

West Kents, the Infantry, and the West


the
;

Regiment needs words of mine to sustain its honour that lives in the official
Riding
records of this Campaign.

France they speak of

"

To this day in La Cinquieme Division

If these pages seem only qui etait d Mons." to be concerned with the doings of this battalion, I may plead that a regimental

To

doctor has no time for other regiments. us the Retreat and the Advance were epitomised in the roads we took, the fights we fought, the billets that gave our battalion the few precarious hours of sleep that we can remember. If the recollections of these days seem to be at variance with official records, one can only say that in the fog of war we saw only one small sector of the our part line only one road from Le

Cateau

the road we took.


; ;

All else

is

merely

the remembrance of fatigue beyond expression, of swollen and painful feet beyond the of sleep that kept appreciation of pain of companies men swaying on the march
;

PREFACE
of

ix

men

that

fell

halts

and lay

in the

over one another at the roads to sleep, from

sheer exhaustion, until they were kicked into grumbling life again. The chapters of this book which tell the tale of Germany as a prisoner saw it, of the
prisoners'

lager

and

at Crefeld, Minden, SenneGiietersloh, of the nightmare that

camps

was the winter of 1914-1915, are officially correct. The recollections of those days were engraved, so indelibly, on the brains of all who experienced them that no lapse of time
can change the well-remembered records of
that period.

A REGIMENTAL SURGEON
IN

WAR AND
CHAPTER

PRISON
I

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE


I

IN

THE RETREAT
of the

had

left British

Columbia at the end

second week in July 1914, for a very brief As our ship, delayed by fog visit home. and the southward-bound icebergs in the Atlantic, passed the northern coast of Ireland, news we heard of the trouble in Dublin
:

to us that the Scottish Borderers, on their return to barracks from an attempt

came

to stop Nationalist upon the mob. All

gun-running, had fired Catholic Ireland was said to be ablaze. Irishmen on board our ship who were in touch with the political condition of their island predicted that Ireland would be in the grip of civil war In the chancelleries within the next month. of Europe all was peace, except for the smouldering flame in the Balkans, where Austria was trying to fix on Serbia responsibility for

Roman

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

the crime of Serajevo. The political atmosphere was full of troublous Ireland. None dreamt that the difficulties of that island would so soon be overwhelmed in the European catastrophe so swiftly approaching.

North America, which a member, was holding a in London from July 26th to meeting July all the stars of the 29th surgical firmament of Europe were in England. The first night
of Surgeons of

The Congress
I

of

am

of the meeting the big Austrian surgeons read their papers and withdrew. The next day the German stars departed. Then, while

were wondering, the great French professor admitted that mobilisation orders tore him unwillingly, and with misgivings, from the London he was beginning to know.
all

The Medical Department


for

of the in

War
the

Office

Base accepted readily, of the Expeditionary Force, men Hospitals who had seen service before. My unit was
service

to mobilise
for

at

Woolwich on August

15th,

immediate embarkation. In a few days we were off, in all secrecy at night, to Southampton. In a line, the transports, column after column of ships, following the careful and tortuous route across the Channel, made their way to Havre. No ships of war to be seen but all the time, we were con;

AT HAVRE

scious of the watchful guard of the Navy that allowed so many ships to pass without

misfortune.
thusiastic

At Havre we received the enwelcome of a population that had

been, until lately, full of misgivings as to the material value of the Entente Cordiale.

The nation was much relieved by our presence. The cloud of doubt and panic was

now

lifted.

England,

always

given

far

greater credit for political influence in continental affairs than her military strength ever justified, had now come to the rescue.

rest

camp

for us

on the heights above

day the splendid, regular regiments marching down to the station and the train that carried them east towards
All

the harbour.

the Belgian frontier.

There was even now work for us to do, for the heavy marching, in full kits, under a blazing August sky, found the weak spots in the reservists. Some of our men were and all coming back by train to Havre of them reservists. were the men They who had just been called up to the Colours there had been no time to get them har;

dened,
civilian

and new boots had blistered soft, feet. The warm fireside and the

life told their story, in the heart that could not bear the burden of the pack ;

sheltered

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

the well compensated valvular or muscular weakness, that was sufficient to perform the functions of everyday civilian life, now

showed
itself

its

to strain.

lack of power to accommodate The tubercular focus in the

lung, that, unsuspected, had not prevented the performance of civilian work, was now

exposed by the searching


ing,

cold nights

and

marchundreamt of. fatigue


test of long
;

Exhaustion, flat feet, varicose veins, rotten teeth that could not bite the biscuits and we saw what the wastage of war could be. Days of restlessness in Havre followed anxiety lest the war should be over before we could take our part. Then came the fighting in Belgium near Mons, and the wounded arrived on the night of the 23rd August and the succeeding days. How glad we were to get some work to do At St. Nazaire the chance we longed for came, and five of us left the hospital, of
;
!

which we were already sick to death, and boarded the train for Le Mans to get further orders. At Le Mans, no orders nobody knew anything. So we took the responsibility on our own shoulders, climbed on
;

the
the

first

train that left in the direction of


of the

Paris,

saw some

motor transport
a

of

Fifth

Division

at

wayside

station,

OFF TO THE FRONT

stopped the train, got out, and after many wanderings, reached the famous division on its retreat. We were a scratch lot for medical officers one of us on regimental leave from India, where he was doctor to an Indian Railway another, one of the most
; ;

distinguished of the younger heart specialists " in London, a man for Auricular

whom
;

fibrillation

"

had no
;

terrors

two

of us, of

much
special

general
leanings

medical

knowledge but no and myself, by way of

being a bit of a surgeon. for the casualties wanted


;

were badly among medical officers had been great. Regimental medical with their advanced dressing posts officers,

We

in

good position when fighting commenced, too busy with their wounded to notice the retirement of the righting lines in front, had awakened to find themselves in the forefront

They were faced with the by their wounded, of dodging the German infantryman, for whom the Red Cross brassard meant less than nothing, or
of

the battle. choice of waiting

flight.

Many

of them, to their credit, stayed

with their wounded, and paid the penalty of duty with their lives or with many months in a German prison. One of us was detailed to the Manchesters, one to the Norfolks, the third to the East Surreys, the fourth to

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

the West Ridings, while it fell to the lot of the 2nd Battalion the King's Own Scottish Borderers to have me for their surgeon. The history of the K.O.S.B. is the story Thrown out in front of the Canal, of Mons. on the 23rd, they sustained the attack all day.

One Company, under Major Chandos

Leigh, advanced through potato fields to drive out the enemy from the wood that The skirmishers in the wood enfiladed them.

turned out to be a division of German troops,

and the remnants of this Company had to take what shelter they could in the ridge and
furrow of the potato field. Their Company Officer stayed behind to see to some wounded, and was never heard of again. Some gained
safety

them wounded, found temporary security among the shelter;

others,

many

of

potato tops. The wounded prisoners were taken to Boussu to a Belgian hospital thence to the prisoners' camp at Sennelager, near Paderborn, in Westphalia. During the night of the 23rd the banks of the canal were
ing
;

held by each of the opposing forces, sniping, in the dark, at one another across the water. Then came the retreat, easterly and a little southerly to Bavai and Le Cateau. The Scottish imagination was, I fear, far too
matter-of-fact to harbour any such beautiful

THE ANGELS OF MONS

delusion as the story of the Angels of Mons. All were much too tired, too exhausted, too
their thoughts were only of the thirsty interminable road, the halt that never seemed to come, the tea that was so badly wanted.
;

no doubt, the conceive the story of the Angels might for such a seed. What ground was ready illusion more likely in the fatigue of a disordered, subconscious mind ? But the Scottish

more imaginative regiment,

people, though they may have no time for for fancies, are not untouched by history the regiment passed the monument to the
;

Marlborough near the field of Malplaquet, and wondered what the spirit of the Great Captain would have said, to see British troops in such retreat before the foe. At Le Cateau the regiment acted as rear
great

Brigade and suffered much in consequence. Far too tired to march any farther, on the night of the 25th they had only strength to dig themselves in, and fight all day long on the 26th. Then, refreshed by what was, to them, so precious

guard to the

rest of the

a rest after the forced marches of the preceding days, they joined the battered rem-

nants of the Fifth Division in St. Quentin. At this point the Fifth and Third Divisions were inextricably mixed. Here, a

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

subaltern and ioo men, and they imagined that they were the last survivors of their

regiment there, another subaltern, with his little group of men also the last survivors of their battalion. The whole Brigade was, for the moment, broken up into fragments. All Scottish soldiers would attach them;

selves to Scottish officers of

any battalion
officers.

and
Scots
officer

other

soldiers

to

other

A
the

Fusilier

officer meeting a K.O.S.B. would exchange the men who had

been

attracted

by the
a

similarity

of

few inquiries as to bonnets, and, The transtheir transport, get on again. was a great rallying point. So it came port about that within three days of Le Cateau
after
all

this

heterogeneous

mass

of

men

be-

longing to the Third and Fifth Divisions had separated itself out into its proper constituent

elements,
Staff

Army
to

again. cross roads to


their

and the Army was an Officers would stop at


these scattered units

direct

proper

divisions.

The

transport

hurried on ahead so that the roads might be clear for infantry. The A.S.C. left piles of bread and biscuit and bully beef at each cross road. Every man would take what he could carry, and hurry on again. Blind some withinstinct led them towards Paris
;

IN

RETREAT

out caps, some with stockinged night-caps

on their heads their rifles and ammunition and water bottles their only kit. Packs had long since been discarded, or safety would never have been reached. The Guards
;

retained their full marching equipment and paid the penalty of the strict law of discipline. Guardsmen might fall out by the roadside or drop dead from exhaustion,

alone

but their packs would still be in place. This absolute discipline might strain a damaged heart beyond its breaking point, but the stern rules of peace training were inexorable. A Guardsman never loses anything he has always got his entrenching tool, his emergency ration is never broached. But even the most broken man would cling to his rifle and ammunition. That he never discarded. Duty dragged us on in front. This kept
;

going who would otherwise have followed the dictates of faint heart and sore feet. The Division was disorganised for the first three days after Le Cateau but we were never an undisciplined mob. The unconscious sense of discipline and order, that comes from years of the barrack square, kept this Division of ours together. On the third day not one could have told that the Army had been in such a retirement. The
all
;

men

io

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE


;

but regiments were only at half strength were regiments again. Tried by hardthey ship, of an endurance splendid, were the men who faced around at the Marne. Our regiment that had left Dublin 1,100 strong, a bare fortnight before, by this time numbered just over 500 officers, N.C.O's and

But now there was nothing that morale unequalled could not face they In a dream we driven but undefeated still. marched, unconscious of the towns we passed, the villages we slept in fatigued almost
men.
; ; ;

beyond endurance
the
of

dropping to

sleep

at

five-minute halt that was the reward each four miles covered. Whole com-

panies, dozing as they marched, fell forward drunkenly on each other at the halts. Sleeping men lay, as they had halted, in the roads, and were kicked uncomplainingly into wakefulness again. Officers alone, from a sense of duty and responsibility, remained standing,
lest

came to fall in and march again. Once more forward, with feet that hurt like a hundred knives, as new surfaces of frayed sock rubbed over fresh blisters, with legs that were no longer conscious of the sensation of pain. None but a Regular Army could

steps order

the sleep that drugged their footmight find them wanting when the

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


have done
it
;

n
shall

and

after the
of

war we

spit-and-polish and worship the gods If ever a war has barrack square again. shown the value of discipline and training,
it is

this.

At Crepy-en-Valois the K.O.S.B. and the West Kents fought a rearguard action, with
a spirit as unimpaired, a courage as undaunted, as that with which they had faced the oncoming host in the shallow field trenches at Le Cateau. This fight gave the rest of the Brigade time to get on and out of the
closing net.

At

last,

pressed ceived as

rearguard fights were no longer by the enemy. An action, condefensive,


It

an

offensive.

automatically became was then that we knew

that the Miracle of the Marne had come about. We had no idea why we turned
;

we supposed,
fashion,

in

dull,

that

the

baited

uncomprehending trap had now

and that we were, at last, and rend our quarry. Never could we understand why the Germans did not take Paris. We felt that we could have done nothing to stop them, if they had wished to occupy it. French officers them" Miracle of selves have christened it the " the Marne so incomprehensible it was.
been
sprung,
to turn
;

12

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

Later on, one came to talk over matters with Russian officers, and heard how they had driven the civilian population of East Prussia

headlong into Berlin.


conviction that
it

Then came the certain was the sacrifice of Russia


;

the offering of the Warsaw Army Corps, all unready, upon the altar of the Treaty with France, that had saved a threatened Paris from the invader. For once the German

General Staff had panicked many divisions from France terror that filled Unter den
;

and
to

recalled

stay

the

groups
Prussia.

of

starving

Linden with refugees from East


officer
?

How
his
I

does a regimental medical


;

do

work and what is his equipment for I had not been was curious to know
battalion in the field for

This

a surgeon to a
thirteen years.

In the South African

War
cart,

we had been provided with a Cape

for the medical panniers, and an ambulance for the wounded. Now, all that was changed

regimental ambulances. Regular trained N.C.O's and men of the R.A.M.C. instead of the willing, but only partially instructed, regimental orThe doctor to each regiment is nowderlies. provided with a light, two- wheeled Maltese cart, that carries the medical and surgical

and

for

the

better.

No more

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

13

These contain a comprehensive panniers. selection of medical and surgical instruments, medicines, condensed milk, and beef extract
;

all

as complete as

it

is

compact.

Lacking

only rubber gloves and sterilisable surgical gowns, there is hardly an operation, of an urgent character, that an adaptable surgeon cannot do in an emergency. Given a house, a stove and a regimental doctor's equipment, his trained N.C.O., and he will have all the
essentials
of

temporary
its

hospital.

Two

water

carts,

each with

to the cleaning of filters of water, complete the regimental equipment


for

orderly, trained and the chlorination

which the surgeon is responsible. The source of the water supply is his job. He has to see that sentries are posted over the doubtful wells and the ponds that collect the
farmyard drainage. With the Pioneer sergeant and his men the doctor goes, at each
bivouac, see that
to
all

choose the

sites

for

latrines

holes are rilled

and refuse cleaned


His

up when the regiment


staff also

leaves its billet.

comprises sixteen stretcher bearers, equally at home with the heavy stretchers as with the band instruments that find them

occupation in times of peace.

CHAPTER

II

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

The

Retreat was over.

The

last

rearguard

action fought by the 13th Brigade, to cover the retreat of the Fifth Division, south-west
of

Lagny, had been successfully conducted

at

Crepy-en-Valois by the 2nd Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Royal

West Kent Regiment. The Expeditionary Force halted, dressed, collected its scattered transport and turned again in a norththrough Coulommiers to Of the K.O.S.B. 600 turned the Marne. to the Advance the rest were scatagain Some of the wounded, the lucky ones, tered. others less fortunate, lay were in England in hospitals, schools, churches and convents, in improvised houses and barns, all along the line of the Retreat from Mons and Le Cateau to Crepy. Most fortunate were those who were given shelter in the Belgian confar less fortunate were vents near Mons in arms who only found a their brothers
easterly
direction,
; ; :

FATE OF THE WOUNDED


painful

15

lodging on the straw of French churches and schools. Most miserable of all were those who lay in manure on the floor of cattle trucks that had brought German cavalry horses to Belgium. For in those early days our wounded were often

without surgical dressings, food, water, or any medical attention whatever. One of the brightest features of the retreat was the
gallant

and

unselfish

way

in

which regimental

medical medical

officers, Field Ambulances and other units stayed behind with their wounded on the way. They had seen their
field,
it

poor fellows bayoneted on the and rumour, credibly Mons


;

after

seemed,
of

brought

stories

of

German

brutality,

stretcher bearers with their hands cut off and eyes gouged out. Yet these devoted some with fifty, others people stayed behind
;

with three hundred, hastily collected in improvised hospitals by the way. The story of these medical officers and orderlies without food, or dressings, or any comforts for the

wounded, facing insults and cruelties from the advancing Germans, makes an epic in
itself.

some

by Le Cateau, with very few exceptions, only

After Mons the lightly of the severely wounded train and arrived safely at

wounded and
were removed Havre. After

16

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


who

could walk to the trains or get precarious shelter in the transport waggons or in the Field Ambulances ever quitted the
those
All severely wounded had to be left field. behind to the tender mercies of the foe. In Coulommiers, a town of picturesque old houses and many bridges crossing clear

streams, the inhabitants welcomed us very For the Germans had only just gladly. and every wine-shop and cafe were in left,

Time alone had saved this town from systematic sacking. The heat was intense as we marched out toward Doue\ but later in the afternoon rain fell and added to our
ruins.

discomfort.

We

bivouacked that night in

Doue, so hastily deserted by the Germans that their food lay untasted on the tables in the courtyard and nothing but wine had been consumed. Nor had there been
a farm
at

any

stint in that, for the


full of

farmyard and outbottles.

buildings were

empty

German

officers, fearing a surprise, always dined in the tables the courtyard of the farms with tablecloths looted from the neatly laid From the number of wine linen chests. broken on the ground, it was glasses, lying clear that after each drink the glass had been thrown on the ground in sheer wanton waste
;

and a

spirit of destruction.

But

their pre-

GERMAN INVADERS
parations

17

had been

in vain, for

for the feast while the food

we came in was yet warm.

In the houses chaos and destruction reigned. Clocks lay broken, crockery smashed, chests of drawers emptied of their contents, linen and clothes lying knee deep on the floor all
stained with

mud

from German boots.

All
;

but the religious pictures were destroyed and from this we deduced that the division we were following was probably Bavarian or Wiirtemburgian. When a German soldier snatched a few moments' rest in the beds he lay on the clean sheets with his filthy boots and took no trouble to avoid soiling even the

most

delicate

bed

linen.

Nor was

this

all,

for in nearly every house these men had left filthy evidences of their bestial habits behind

They certainly succeeded in renderthe beds and bedrooms uninhabitable ing for any of us who might wish to sleep. There were a few German prisoners, slightly
them.

wounded and exhausted men picked up in woods and barns and outhouses. They were
and very hungry, but impudently selfAt Coulommiers station that morning we had seen about 150 German wounded being carried by our men to the ambulance Fat and smiling train that was lying there. Germans were being carried on the shoulders
tired

assured.

18

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


;

of our orderlies to the train

here in clean

linen on swing cots with English nurses and doctors to attend them they were going to make their way in comfort to St. Nazaire. But what of our prisoners in Belgium ? No

ambulance

nothing but the

trains, nurses or doctors for them filth of the floor of a horse


;

box, exhibited at each station to a jeering crowd of Red Cross orderlies, nurses and And when they called for food or soldiers. water, nothing but a shower of stones and

Englander gefangener." It was, perhaps, lucky for these German wounded that we were unconscious of what our comrades suffered. From Doue next morning we marched through St. Cyr toward La Ferte-sous- Jouarre. At the station of La Ferte I found that some German soldiers had spent a few
abuse for the
juvenile
idle

"

moments, before destroying the station, in punching all the tickets in the ticket office I these were lying strewn about the floor. All night and all a souvenir. kept one as next day our guns and the French thundered,
:

shelling the

transport in its retreat of along the hilly roads and steep ravines this wooded country. Apparently the whole the French artillery on of our artillery and far our right had collected near together
;

German

AT

ST.

CYR

19

into the night they blazed away, shooting on the map, shelling the roads to hinder the

transport hurrying to the Marne. At St. Cyr the kindly people came to give us bread and jam crowding round us with

German

evidences of heartfelt relief at our approach. One young woman complained of unspeakable

treatment at the hands of their late visitors. In those days, no word of the systematic
outrages on French and Belgian

women had
far

reached our
tired

ears.

We

had been

too

and

far too

hungry up to that time to

We saw little civilian population. evidence of physical cruelty, only of a mad houses fired in drunken spirit of destruction We rather thought that most looting orgies. had been carried out by the transport drivers, the commissariat and other details that
on the
;

pay much

attention to any possible outrage

accompany the German German infantry been


were,

Had the transport. half as tired as we

sure that they had in the weight of their packs alone more than they could
felt

we

nor would they have been inclined to carry off even minted gold, if they had found it. These good inhabitants of St. Cyr were soon to be compensated for their misfortunes
carry as
it

was

20

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


sight
of

by the

about

seventy

prisoners

whom we
into the
lot of

passed as they were being


escort.

marched

town with an
;

very patchy

men they were


puny
;

some huge, some very


all

small and

but

with the hulking,

loose kneed, shambling

walk that is so characteristic of the German. One can always tell German infantry by their gait, even if
is

not possible to see them clearly or to recognise the spike upon the helmet. A German soldier in full regimentals crouches that is, provided he is not as he walks All soldiers crouch to attention. marching
it
;

lean, to a certain extent, from the weight of their packs, but the German more than others, as his pack is higher up upon his

and

shoulders.
I

With bent knee, all loose jointed, have recognised them at night silhouetted
All these Ger-

against a lighter background.

Cyr were hungry-looking and tired, but they were not cowed rather there was an impudent curiosity about them. For they had made the great discovery, and for once German High Headquarters were wrong the English did not kill all prisoners.
prisoners at St.
; ;

man

we passed a group of Frenchwomen Only did they lose their composure for, in those days, the women in this part of France
as
;

SAACY BRIDGE
were
smarting
St.

21
of

under

the

sense

many
the

injuries.

Leaving

Cyr behind

us,

we made

last heights before the long gradual descent There was much intermittent to the Marne.

shelling,

and once the battalion was

in action,

advancing in a very perilous manner across some open fields, under shrapnel fire. But the brunt of the fighting was borne by the Third Division on our left. Saacy was our destination, and it was our object to cut off
personnel and transport as possible before it could cross the fine bridge there. Apparently there were only two bridges in this part of the Marne which were
as

much German

one at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre and ours at Saacy. The whole of that lovely


intact, the

September afternoon the 13th Brigade lay on the slopes within a couple of miles of the bridge and watched the contest for the wooded heights above the river, through For the woods which rose their glasses. sharply from the river were very strongly held, especially by two batteries of artillery ten guns in all, particularly well screened from But our Divisional cavalry and horse view. artillery were well up and across the river and the Germans, stampeded for once out
;

22

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


A

of their usual methodical ways, omitted to blow up the bridge. They trusted to artillery
fire

to
it

dispute

our

passage.

beautiful

sight

was to

see our

mounted men and guns


;

work up the slopes in front of us seemed to take the steep ascent at a

they
gallop,

unmindful of the fleecy clouds of cotton wool that were the enemy shrapnel. The gunners unlimbered at the edge of a wood and in a
that bounded the fringe of trees on the south side. We could clearly see them running to bring sheaves of corn to
cornfield

screen the guns from view. Then the red tongues of flame stabbed the green back-

ground of the wood, as they shelled the German transport on the reverse slopes of the hill. But the cavalry suffered from the
and, often, we could see little shrapnel fire groups of riderless horses tearing down the slope of open ground to the river below and the tiny figures of dismounted men trying All that afternoon we to head them back. in the sun, regardless of the fact that we lay
;

were well in range of the German guns, had they not been otherwise employed. About five o'clock came the order for our regiment to advance to support the 14th and 15th

who had made the crossing and were now in action in the depths
Brigades,

safely of the

MOVING INTO ACTION


woods away
15th

23

to the left of our cavalry. The Brigade consisted of the Cheshires,

Dorsets, Norfolks and Bedfords, and it yielded nothing in excellence to the 14th. The latter

was made up
wall's

of Manchesters,

Duke

of Corn-

Light

Infantry,

East

Surreys,

and

Suffolks.

Through the winding streets of Saacy we marched on to the handsome stone bridge that crossed the river. This town appears
to be a favourite

summer

resort

for

all

along

the

river

banks were tied launches

Across the bridge chateau and gained undamaged the steep road in the shelter of the woods. It was a blazing hot afternoon. All the way this narrow road was blocked with light
skiffs

and
T

and houseboats.
the

w e passed

14th and 15th Brigades, ammunition waggons and water carts the crush was great and we could hardly get A constant stream of wounded men past. flowed by, walking or carried on stretchers to the field ambulance below. Many of
transport of the
:

the cases, mostly men of Cornwalls, did not need the red labels pinned to their tunics that spoke of dangerous
these stretcher

wounds.

That was written on their faces, in the grey pallor, the closed eyes, the restlessness and the beads of cold sweat upon
c

24

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


foreheads.

Being the forward doctor, I had to see these men and, assuring myself that haemorrhage was stopped, to transmit them to the rear. And in the woods were
their

wounded men,

too

these

we

collected

and

brought to the edge of the road as we advanced. A first field dressing and half a

and my grain of morphia on the tongue and I were off again. It was shrapnel orderly in this wood that was taking the toll of these
;

men's

lives.

How

the

transport

of

these

two brigades escaped destruction, with ourselves, in the narrow winding road we shall if the range of the shrapnel, never know now bursting beyond us, had been shortened we should have been in a bad way indeed. the batteries There was no going back here could not possibly have turned ; of artillery the wood was impassable; and, had the
; ;

transport managed to turn, so steep was the road that the maddened horses would have plunged the whole of us in destruction

on their way. Then came a call by this time we were well up in support of the 14th Brigade The for a doctor to go to the Corn walls.

commanding officer was wounded, the doctor was dead and things were looking badly.
spoke to Coke and went
off

through the

CASUALTIES
woods with

25

only to find that the medical officer they did not want me from the reserve battalion had the dressing station well in hand. There had been quite a lot of casualties
orderly,
;

my

among the regimental medical officers in our Division during the Retreat and the Advance.

My
his

regiment had
at

lost
;

two

one,

Gibbon,

wounded

Mons
fill

way

to

another, Bell, killed on the vacancy from the Field


Ridings, too, had the Yorkshire Light Only

Ambulance.
Infantry

The West

lost their doctor.

and the West medical officers original was short


from
of doctors.
I

Kents had their


left.

Our brigade

On my way back

excellent view, a sheltered corner of the wood, of our

had an

aeroplanes flying very low and trying to locate the enemy guns. But all day long searched without success, and we were they

held up. The guns were so well dug in and screened that our observers could not spot the flashes. Not until nightfall did one German gunner elevate his gun to take the

tempting chance our aeroplane was giving. This flash was at once observed, and our guns plastered the wood with shell, while two companies of the Yorkshire Light In-

26

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

teries

fantry stormed the slope and took the batundamaged. I remember that we were very thankful that the task of storming this
lot.

uninviting hill did not fall to our those guns had done their work
;

But
they
of

for

had held up the Fifth Division the whole


that afternoon.

That night we held the ground the other brigades had made. Lying well out, beyond the wood, we were the advance, and to us fell the duty of picketing the roads and paths and providing the patrols. Then came the rain, steady and persistent, and, hot though the day had been, the night was cold. Headquarters, comprised of Coke, Dering and Sermyself, soon had a good fire burning. geant Robertson, the most excellent of all men cooks, fried our bacon and soaked The company officers, biscuits in the gravy. one by one, appeared from the darkness and we sat down on the wet ground to the best meal of the day. To me this scene will for this was always be very memorable
;

one of the few occasions that our officers all messed together. Dirty and begrimed, our chins unshaven for two weeks, we were yet
a very merry party in spite of the rain. Sitting there in the red reflection of the fire, I thought they were a collection of the best

AN OFFICERS' MESS
and
finest looking fellows

27

any regiment could

The meal over, the officers returned to sleep with their respective companies in Now we were going very light the wood.
show.
;

our transport with the men's and officers' and kits was miles away across the Marne if one man in five had a waterproof sheet he was very lucky. All packs had been there was not a discarded in the Retreat in the regiment only a very few greatcoat
;

officers

fellows

had Burberrys. But all these good went back to their companies, hollie

lowed out places in the dead leaves to upon and slept in the rain without covering

all

Our officers showed that they that night. could bear exposure just as willingly, uncomplainingly and well as did their men. After a damp and wakeful night, the
battalion snatched a hasty breakfast at the first light of day, paraded and started north were the leading in column of route.

We

regiment of the brigade on that most eventful day, which followed the passage of the Marne, and, as ours was the leading brigade of the Division, we were immediately behind the cavalry and horse artillery. The forward position of our regiment left to me the responsibility of first attention to all wounded on the line of march. The cavalry doctors

28

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


far too spread out in the

were

open country

to keep in touch with the field ambulances, now far behind us. All around in the fields

brown bundles

were evidences of yesterday's fighting, pathetic lying on the ploughland and


;

stubble as they had lain all night here there in little groups they lay as they singly, had fallen the evening before. The fightingofficers

had gone on and

far into the night, so the medical their stretcher bearers had been

unable to find the wounded.

One

fears that

the cold and exposure of that rainy night had helped, only too surely, the final dissolution of many seriously wounded men. It is not necessary to say with what care these missing men had been searched for. It is ever a point of honour with regimental doctors to get their wounded under cover the first night. Very difficult it is to see a crumpled khaki figure on ploughland. My duty it was to ride off the line of march to see that these were really dead and beyond all help to
;

scan with the help of my keen-eyed orderly the hedges and ditches before I hurried back to join the regiment on the road. Here, issufrom a farm-house, was a little group of ing

wounded men who had lain all night in had seen us on the march there, in a little wood, were others who had stayed
shelter but
;

TENDING THE WOUNDED


beside a

29

wounded comrade. After their immediate needs had been attended to, I left them by the roadside to await the coming of the field ambulance. At first all the bodies,
;

lying in the fields, were clothed in khaki later on, grey figures were to be seen and, as the pursuit continued, these grey bundles

When, later in the our dead, it was always a day, we found trooper of our cavalry who, greatly daring, had gone too far ahead in the pursuit and thereby paid the last penalty for his rashness. In fields close by were dead cows, victims of the
became more
frequent.

searching shrapnel, and tiny calves standing so patiently beside their unresponsive mothers. The story of the German retreat was written all along the road. They discarded from weakness as a man does from his hand
First, were innumerable wine bridge. then full bottles lying all empty bottles, smashed in the ditches by the roadside, and

at

boxes of cigars. Pictures, some cut from their frames others intact, leant drunkenly
against the hedges. Stationery half buried The transport in the roadside vegetation. to abandon the loot was hard pushed to have
of

many French chateaux

withal.

and officers' loot Then curious specimens of plunder


;

appeared, hanging on the roadside hedges,

30

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


mud the
gear,

trampled in the
lightness,

loot the

marching
its

infantry alone could take

by reason of
soft
frilly

women's

things,

which the simple German soldier was taking

home

to his wife, so light to carry

and so

horses, shot and methodically stripped of saddlery and shoes later, we came upon poor beasts, then horses, dead, but with shoes intact

eminently

French.

Then transport

methodically shot, so as to rob us of any possible future use of them, but with saddlery
still

left

on

merely

pursuit was growing

cut from the traces. The fiercer, and the plight of

the wheeled transport was, at every mile, more urgent. Farther on, by the roadside,

hanging heads and bent trembling knees, were abandoned horses which there some had been no time to shoot or strip to rise. The standing, others too foundered dead animals blocked the pursuit, their bellies so swollen with gas that their legs stuck out at an angle with their bodies. Then came the abandoned wagons themwith
;

Flour, a bright yellow pea flour for making the universal soup, was lying in bright ochreous patches all along the line of
selves.

retreat

harness, sausage machines, cutlery, Evidence of the cooks' gear all abandoned.
;

thorough work of the German regimental

THE GERMAN RETREAT


butchers was here
;

31

first,

whole carcasses,
;

carefully skinned, had been thrown away later, as the pace grew hotter, quarters of

meat methodically and neatly jointed. So frantic was their haste, that, when we would come to the narrow stone bridges that
crossed
valleys,

the

streams

at

the

foot

of

little

we could

wagons had They had met and jammed between the parapets and blocked the road. Then we saw where they had been lifted over the parapets and thrown into the stream below drowned horses and upturned wagons in the
;

see where three transport raced to get first to the bridge.

water.

This retreat was worse conducted than our for there we got our transport well away ahead, so that the roads were not blocked for infantry and artillery. Here the Germans had kept their transport back too late, and every road was indescribably jumbled with guns, infantry, motorThis was by far the most cars, and wagons. satisfactory day the Expeditionary Force had seen since war began, and compensated in a large measure for our retreat from Mons. Still on and on we pressed, the cavalry and horse gunners, just ahead of us, on the next

own from Le Cateau

rise of this rolling

country

guns unlimbering

32

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

on the reverse slopes and shelling the enemy over the ridges. All seemed to be done in
Here, in a field near by, we saw guns, buried up to the hubs, and abandoned in a morass they had encountered when, tempted by a promising stubble field,, the artillery had left the crowded road to All along the roads get away in the open. at first most were bicycles by the hundred run over by transport wheels, their carefully Later, when time pressed, tyres removed. and they could not remove the tyres, the cyclists merely cut the rubber in long slits,, with their knives. As the day progressed,

parade order.

German

bicycles, intact, were lying abandoned in theThe Cyclist Corps had evidently ditches. been left as rearguard but finding the roads
;

of them and, being blocked unable to ride across country, they had left their wheels and struck out across the fields
all

in

front

But there was order in disorder. The abandoned motors told the story of the at first we found them with tyres flight removed and sparking plugs taken away Farther on the tyres were engines smashed.
on
foot.
;

;:

machinery hastily broken withhammers. Still farther, cars were abandoned, uninjured, as they had run out of petrol
cut
;

the

German

staff cars these,

with divisional

flags-

"LIEBER DOKTOR"
flying

33

beside the lamps in front. And all the roads in ditches, by haystacks, were along German dead and wounded victims, for the
;

hunied their part, of the shrapnel that clothed in field grey, Jaegers Infantry, flight. in green, troopers with skulls and cross bones
most

and other badges on the front of their high The wounded were collected in groups kepis.

by
of

one sheltering haystacks, in the charge of our wounded or dismounted troopers.


very proud the escort was, pretending, came up, to a stern discipline that Wood-

And
as I

bine cigarettes, in German lips, belied. The wounded had not been attended to, and my
orderlies
first field

and

were kept busy, putting on dressings, making them comfortable


I

morphia and leaving instructions to await the field ambulances. Very were these Germans for small attengrateful
in hay, giving

tions
I

Doktor," remember, and try to give me their identity But there discs with messages to transmit. and my German was too was no time to wait, for we had to deficient to be of use to them catch up with the Column again. At one place, by the side of the road, was a small
;

they used to

call

me

"

lieber

disused quarry,

all

grass-covered.

Here, as

I passed, were six wounded German troopers, and a horse gunner of ours, with his right

34

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


in a sling, to

guard them. As I rode up seemed to be in extremis, cold, sweaty, they and groaning. " They aren't hurt pale " it's only much," volunteered their guard the Lancers pricked them with their lances." But, seeing their tunics red and bloody, we ripped up the cloth and found, even as our trooper had said, that each man had been merely pricked in the muscles of the back tiny punctured wounds barely half-an-inch
;

arm

What meant, then, all these evidences deep. of distress ? Two of them were coughing and spitting into their hands and examining
what they coughed up.

Then came

to

me

the explanation. These troopers on foundered horses had been overtaken by the 5th Lancers, who, in a most merciful way, had

touched them with the point of the lance as they passed by. The Uhlans, glancback in terror at the advancing point, ing felt the stab, shrieked and fell from their
just

saddles.

Then the logical German mind told them that this lance-thrust had probably
so they spat into penetrated their lungs their hands to see the blood come up. But of blood there was not so much as one speck, so shallow were their wounds. Then their
;

introspective, literal minds added still further for they concluded that they to their terror
;

LANCERS AT WORK
must have
internal haemorrhage.
distress.

35
their

Hence
I

state of mental

When

reassured

them

of the trifling nature of their wounds, smiled and soon were borrowing cigarthey Now I have ettes from their generous escort. spoken with many cavalry medical officers of great experience in lance wounds in this war, and they all agree that, never to their knowledge, has any German trooper held his hand and failed to take the ultimate advantage with a lance. Our troopers, when dismounted and at the mercy of Uhlans, have and lance been most mercilessly lanced wounds are the most terrible in war. Seldom have I heard so splendid an instance of a kindly spirit of forbearance as that which filled those troopers of the 5 th, the Royal Irish Lancers.
;

German
tens
six

prisoners there were, in fives


;

and

sitting by the roadside quite contented, without arms or ammunition. These they had hidden in the woods before they gave themselves up. Guarded by single troopers or wounded artillerymen, hungry and exhausted, they seemed glad that it was I wondered at the time why, in that over.
;

and fifties hundred

and
all

in the village of

Chanzy

wooded country,
advancing

especially when far too quickly to make an

we were examina-

36

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


woods
the
possible, they had to the roadside to

tion of

come down
surrender.

from cover

When

Aisne it the A.S.C. and other details in the rear to return from their daily bathe with starving German prisoners. When our men were safely stripped and in the water these wretched men would come to the river

down before the Army was not uncommon for men of


settled

bank

to surrender.

All day long we followed this, the VII. German Army Corps (if we may safely judge

by the description on
port) until

their

abandoned trans-

we arrived at the village of Chanzy. There were 600 German prisoners corralled in the foldyard of a farm. On the outskirts of this village we bivouacked for the night,
in a stubble field, and slept of corn for beds. And in

with the sheaves

the far distant darkness we could just see tiny points of flame that were the German camp fires. Our
;

and there was nothing cavalry were all done for us but to remain here for the night and push on again to-morrow. That evening I learnt, from the signal officer, of a curious incident that illustrates the resource the Germans displayed, even in so disordered a retreat as this. I have made a few pages back, of a group of mention,

THE RESOURCEFUL ENEMY

37

German wounded collected round a haystack. One of them, badly hit by shell in the left side, appeared to me to have had an injury
to the spleen and to be suffering from internal haemorrhage. He it was who called me
'lieber

Doktor,"

and

tried

to

press

his

upon me. I had noticed, in the casual way one notices these things in the stress of so much work, that one of our field
Identity disc

telephone cables was suspended from the eaves of the stack. This cable was laid from the cavalry advance guard to divisional headquarters in our rear. Later in the day, when

became necessary for the signallers to lift this cable upon their shepherd" " crooks to allow our heavy cow-gun battery to pass along the road without damage to the wire. The signaller tried to get in some slack
passed on,
it

we had

in order to lift his cable, but found it firmly attached to the haystack. Impatiently he pulled when, to his vast surprise, the side of

outward and exposed a German soldier, unarmed, sitting in a little recess in the heart of the stack a broad grin on his face and the earpiece of a telephone attached to two wires that tapped our cable. This intrepid fellow had learnt all the orders that divisional headquarters had sent to the advance guard and it was clearly his intention
the stack
fell
;

38

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


away that
night and rejoin his
lines.

to slip

army
of

by passing through our


that
it

We

agreed

required a considerable

amount

pluck to stay behind on such an errand as this in the midst of our advancing army.

In

fact,

though the
in

German

retreat

was

a measure, disorderly, the hurried and, transport especially showing all the evidence

was not entirely There was order and efficiency disorganised. in the way the abandoned equipment was destroyed, and the unwounded prisoners, who came in to give themselves up to us, had carefully buried or destroyed their arms and ammunition. And in many cases the distinguishing marks of their regiments had
of a panicstricken retreat,
it

been removed.

That night our second reinforcements arrived in charge of Ferguson and Gillespie the latter, fresh from Oxford, with the makings of a most excellent officer in him, showed no
;

sign in his confident, smiling face of the fate

He was shot through the that awaited him. head, in our attack on La Bassee, died in my
farm-house dressing station, and was buried beneath the pear tree just behind the buildings. Ferguson, an old officer of the ist Battalion, had come to rejoin from the Malay States, where he had been rubber-planting for

ROUTINE

39

the last eight years. Strange to say, he was in the half battalion of which I was in medical we held Naawpoort charge in South Africa Nek, a baldheaded kopje, half way between
;

Krugersdorp

and

Oliphants

Nek

in

the

Megaliesberg. The new draft settled

down
;

for the night

the

moon was
cold.

at the full

and the night was

Smith and I slept, very close in the straw, but the early morning together, cold soon waked us. Smith went to his
very
I to see the morning sick drawn up the half light beside my Maltese cart. Successfully I parried the many requests of the more sorry than sick to be allowed to

company,

in

ride, for part of this day's

transport wagons. inward consciousness of the stern sense of duty that condemned many a poor, footsore devil to slog along the long day's march that
lay before us, I presently returned to the ashes of last night's fire. There Sergeant Robertson was already filling the morning air with the delicious fragrance of ration bacon.

march, upon the Then, glowing with an

Thus do we earn our breakfasts. But I must absolve regimental medical officers, as a clan, from any want of real sympathy with blistered feet. I had been a regimental doctor and I well knew that had I been combefore,
D

40

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

plaisant in this matter, before noon we should have had half the battalion on the transport. The moral effect of a weak medical is very

bad

for

any battalion
I

and

Tommy,

or

should say in this case, much Jock, I love him, requires some firm treatthough ment in the matter of easy rides, in a position of elegant leisure, upon the already overas

burdened transport. Soon we were off again.

The West Kents


;

but this time took the lead of the brigade we left the line of the German retreat and our eyes were not gladdened again by the sight of abandoned equipment and dead or cold dying Germans. The day was vile and very wet. Our only consolation was the
;

fact

that

the

German

prisoners

we were

bringing with us were also without overcoats ; and the distant prospect that we might find One of our prisoners, billets at Hartennes.

fat

Red

Cross

orderly,

had,

round

his

shoulders, one of the excellent German ground sheets and I dearly wanted to rob him of it. But Divisional Orders against looting were not lightly to be broken. All day long his fat face shone from beneath the shelter of while my hands froze and the this sheet The German rain wetted me to the skin. or waterproof sheet is another instance ground
;

EQUIPMENT COMPARISONS
of the excellence of the

41

enemy's equipment.

Fitted with rings and buckles, it serves the purpose both of a ground sheet or a tent,

while either end

may
days.

be converted into a

hood
their

for

rainy

Another feature of

equipment was the method they had of hooking water bottles and haversacks on In some of our men's equipto their belts. ment the water bottle was at the back so situated that the whole kit had to be taken It was exoff for the man to get a drink.
;

one way, that it did not encourage but it is only fair to the excessive drinking of our equipment to say that this designers purpose never entered their view. Haversacks of cow hide, with the hair on, are both
cellent in
;

the direction of the and very dry hairs, being downward, ensured excellent drainage for rain. The German pack is carried on the shoulders higher up than ours, hooks on more easily, and, with the greatcoat encircling it above, makes a very comlight
;

pact

kit.

The entrenching
;

tool

is

a small

spade carried at the side bination pick that our

and not the com-

carry hanging from the equipment behind. Another neat contrivance about the German uniform is the use made of the two buttons, on either side of the slit in the tail of the tunic, as hooks

men

42
to

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

support the belt. This allows an even disposition of the weight of the equipment, both behind and at the sides above the The uniform cloth is softer and more hips. smooth-faced than our rough serge, and, though perhaps of not such good material, The yet seems to be quite as serviceable. German field grey, when wet with rain,
shades off very well into a background of In moorland and in heather wet, dark earth. this field grey is infinitely superior in colour for the green shade of our to our khaki cloth makes a most marked contrast to the
;

But, on ploughblack, dead winter heather. or against hedges or green woodland, land nothing can compare with khaki. To this I,
so many searches for wounded and on ploughland, can only too in ditches But against yellow stubble, surely testify. in the afterglow of a September evening,

who have had

the dry German field grey In in absolute contrast.

is

positively blue,

the morning or it is not so wonderevening mists, however, blue. fully invisible as the new French horizon

Late that evening we approached Harand an increasing fear rilled us that tennes there would be no billets left, and that we should have to face this driving rain in open But it was not to be for Lindsay, bivouac.
;

A COLD BILLET
our
billet officer,

43

in the
for us.
'

farm

of

Tommy's
;

had got excellent quarters men, and in the chateau On such a day as this there is little "
for the
all

observed

to be irrepressible gaiety of us were sick and miserable,

cold and wet.

Most of the battalion had a

mild form of dysentery as well. But straw, and fire and tea, roused their drooping and the loud chatter of contented spirits men filled the billets, while the guard shared Soon the their rations with the prisoners. guard, by the use of the wonderful lingua franca with which Tommy holds converse with all the world, were soon in deep conThe chateau versation with their prisoners. us shelter but it was cold and damp gave and the fires would not burn. The German soldiers who had inhabited the house the
; ;

previous evening had pillaged and plundered everywhere lamps and crockery all broken linen chests and clothes-cupboards capsized upon the floors of every room. They had taken care to render the bedrooms uninhabitable for us by a lavish use of the filthy
;

measures they employ to defile the beds and bedrooms they had occupied last night. We agreed that the German was an obscene and
filthy beast

and lay upon the room downstairs to snatch what


;

floor

of a

sleep the

44

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


allow.
It

cold and the condition of our wet clothes

would

was part

of

my

duty, on

arrival in billets, to arrange for the disposal of Sergeant Thompson, the orderlies and

stretcher bearers.

They were always housed

at Headquarters, so that I might an eye on the water carts, and be close keep to the medical equipment on the Maltese

near

me

But our water carts were almost useless both of them had got in the way of shrapnel at Le Cateau. The filters were out of order and the jolting of the rough roads dislodged the packing with which we hoped
cart.
;

to stop the leaks.

When
we had

once the

filters

were

rendered useless,

to rely upon bleaching powders to chlorinate the water. The epidemic of dysentery and diarrhoea was a

spread, it would most seriously interfere with the efficiency of the battalion. But what could one do there were French women with water
;

great anxiety to

me

for,

if

it

every town and every billet. abounded and it seemed hopeUnripe less to correct things, no matter how one

and wine

in

fruit

tried or

to water

were the rules with regard and fruit. Nor can one pretend that biscuit and bully is an ideal diet for such a complaint.
rigid

how

Next morning,

thoroughly

warmed and

ON THE MARCH
fed,

45

north and east in the direction of Soissons. In the


still

we went upon our way we had

distance
too,
it

heard, all day and night the thunder of the French seemed,

heavy artillery on our left. Soon we were upon the high tableland that forms the
southern barrier of the valley of the Aisne. We were cheerfully confident that nothing but the Rhine would stop our advance.

As we approached Serches, lying in its cupshaped hollow among the woods, we could
see the shrapnel bursting in the air far to our left. On the far horizon the French

guns were making excellent practice against the heights above the Aisne, then strongly held by the enemy. All that day the weather had been particularly vile, and we were all looking forward to shelter and warm food in some kind of billets. Judge then of our
disappointment, when we got orders to parade and ascend the steep hill again. Wet and miserable we struggled on, nearer to Ciry and the Aisne, and passing, on the way, the West Kents lying in improvised trenches overlooking the town. Down the steep hill we went, through the winding streets and on to La Sermoise. At the cross roads we halted just behind the Cavalry Brigade then turned into a walled farm-house, woke
;

46
the

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


prepared the

occupants, lit fires and evening tea and bully beef.


hours' rest,
on the

Hardly three
seemed, had

and no sooner,

it

established ourselves for sleep stone floor of the kitchen than urgent orders came from the Cavalry Brigadier to get out and back to Serches again. The cavalry reconnaissance in the dark had got
into touch with the enemy, in force, at Missy

we comfortably

and Bridge. The bridge was blown up our position, so far advanced, had become perilous in view of the possibility of a counterattack in force. The companies were roused,
;

transgrumbling, from lofts and stables port horses harnessed up and, in pelting rain, at 2 a.m., we faced the climb up Ciry Hill and the four mile trek back to Serches. But there were two men for whom the cold these and exposure had proved too much I had to leave behind, in the care of the Fifth Lancers, until such time as the ambuIn the morning lance would pick them up. we hoped that the Brigade would continue If the Cavalry had to retire, its advance.
;
;

these men, both incipient cases of pneumonia, would be faced with the job of finding their way back as best they could. But they
all the Gercared for none of these things mans on the Aisne would not have moved
;

NEARING THE AISNE

47

them, at that moment, from the warmth of borrowed French blankets. All the way back I marched with Pennyman, our senior subaltern and machine-gun officer, and gathered much information as to
the distinguished record of the regiment to which I was attached. As dawn was breaking we got into billets in the vaults of the old church, converted in the time of the Revolution into a barn here we had more tea and bacon and slept on the boards.
;

Hardly, it seemed, had we dropped to sleep before the companies were paraded and we
off again. The day was beautiful, and blue and we could admire the beauty of the autumn tints on Ciry woods as we descended the hill again. As we expected to be in action soon, and as the guns of Conde Fort were searching the wooded slopes, the heavy transport was left behind with Murray, our Quartermaster, and the

were

clear

battalion Sergeant- Major

through Ciry transport carrying rations, the machine-gun section, ammunition mules, and last, but not least, my precious Maltese cart with
;

McWhinney. Down the light we went again

Sergeant Thompson imperturbably in charge. The West Kents, the leading regiment of the brigade, preceded us and occupied the fine

48

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

old town of La Sermoise, lying on the edge of the plateau just above the Aisne, and, at that moment, heavily shelled by high exhalted for the plosive and shrapnel. morning on the edge of a cornfield among

We

the woods of a cup-shaped hollow behind La Sermoise. Here, screened from enemy aeroplanes, we lay and made up for the lost All the morning our sleep of many nights. cow-gun battery of 6o-pounders, on the

high ridge behind us, shelled Conde Fort, while the big German howitzers vigorously responded. For all the world it seemed as if invisible trains were continually passing on some celestial railway above our heads. Late in the afternoon we were off again along the road to La Sermoise, halting dangerously at times, in column of route by the wayside. Fortune favoured us in that no searching Taube found us before we gained the shelter of the substantial houses of the town. In the gathering dusk the battalion marched down the wooded roads to Gombeen Wood, where they bivouacked for the night while I established a dressing station in the shelter of the high walls of a little farm in the main street. Looking back I cannot that I chose so hazardous help wondering At that moment it was safe a position.
;
;

LA SERMOISE
but in
less

49

than ten days the German guns began the systematic shelling of La Sermoise

As night fell the and all its buildings. West Kents were heavily in action at Missy Bridge; and late into the darkness the machine guns kept up a continuous fire, like the hammering of a pneumatic rivetter upon steel construction work. Rapid rifle fire
burst from both banks of the river. When the firing had ceased we made our way to the battalion to see Dering and get orders for the morrow. Silently the battalion lay, in the trenches, on either side of the road

commanding the wrecked we approached, and in


river

bridge.

Stealthily
for

whispers,

the

fifty yards away. that the attack was for dawn and that we were to force the passage of the Aisne. Pennyman and I returned to La Sermoise and spent a restless night lying on the tarpaulin that covered my Maltese cart. At 4 a.m. Thompson came out with two fried eggs, the only

was barely

We learnt

eggs
left

then Pennyman machine-gun section we all knew, was going to started for what, be the most difficult task we had yet embarked
in

the

little

town

me and

with

his

upon. Anxiously I leant upon the stone wall of the village overlooking the silent river, now

50

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


in
rifle

wrapped
single

cloud of morning mist. A shot, the hammer of a German


its
I

the battalion was Soon the machine-gun fire became almost continuous and rapid fire rolled up and down the river banks and I did not need anyone to tell me that the regiment was in a most desperate engagement. Going back into the village to
at the river's bank.
;

machine gun, and

knew

see Croker, the medical officer of the West Kents, then established in an excellent temporary hospital of his own, I arranged to get

on down to the
it.

river,

if

manage the wounded K.O.S.B.'s whom I might send Croker then was able to get into back. touch with the 13th Field Ambulance and
;

He would

take

could possibly charge of all

after his regiment now engaged with the K.O.S.B.'s in the perilous crossing.
I

would look

Maltese cart was ready the old black horse, that had dragged it all the way in the Retreat from Mons, was plainly disgusted with the early hours and a miserable feed of hay in a strange stable. The stretcher

My

bearers

fell

in

and we

set off

lane towards the river.

the sloping In the lee of a wall

down

we were
rifle fire
;

in shelter

from machine-gun and

but the high explosive shells were tearing up the road before us, and we had to

AT THE AISNE
take to the
haystacks.
fields to

51

seek the cover of some

The open meadows were swept and machine-gun fire there were no sheltering hedges or ditches and it was clear that the Maltese cart could come no
with
rifle
;
;

farther.

Leaving

Sergeant

Thompson

to

make the best of his way the stretcher bearers and I, in very open order, ran for it across the open to the ditch that crossed the field some 200 yards away.
back to the village,

The ploughland was very heavy going but we got there, hot and triumphant, and very
;

much
I felt

afraid.

We

were badly wanted, that

sure
Still

long.

and we could not wait very another wide open field had to

be crossed before we could gain the shelter of a bank and a row of big poplars near the river edge. Another sprint, and we were under cover again behind the bank. In this
spot was the Major

commanding the

field

company of Engineers, cool and lected, disdaining the shelter the


us,

most colbank gave

could get across. The temporary pontoon bridge the Engineers had put up, further down the river, had just been blown up by a shell, and
I

and he doubted whether

the only
that,

way

for

me was
still

the canvas raft

by chance, might

two battalions were

be intact. across, he told

The

me

52

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


; ;

there

had been very many casualties he was sure there was no doctor across the river and he wished me luck. Telling the stretcher bearers to keep open order and take good
cover, I found a practicable ditch that led to the rushes by the river bank, and gained

the friendly shelter of the reeds outwardly for one of my men had plumped down calm, but inwardly near and was watching me
;

a subaltrembling. tern of the Engineers answered me and said that the canvas raft was sinking, and would
hail across the river
;

go to the pillars of the ruined bridge there might shout to the Sergeant- Major, who would ferry me across. This meant a run
I
I
;

of

the tow-path, and a the danger. For, beside glance a long heap of white stones, there lay four and they were very still for of our men

50 yards

along

showed me
;

the snipers had got their range well against that white background. But the snipers failed this time and, from the shelter of the
;

twisted steel girders of the bridge, I hailed A the Sergeant-Major of the Engineers.

machine gun was posted close behind him, and it took me some time before I heard that this boat was sunk and my only hope of
crossing
la}^

in the canvas raft,

if it

could be

AN EMERGENCY CALL

53

persuaded to float. Then a loud shout behind me, and from a cottage in the shelter of the road embankment I saw a soldier
waving. This could only mean that wounded men were in that cottage, and I crawled along the embankment to see what I could do. Across the path was the body of one of our Cyclists, a Seaforth Highlander by
his identity disc,

who had

carried his recon-

little too far the previous evenIn the cottage were several wounded ing. these I dressed and gave the morphia they were in such need of. That night they would be carried to La Sermoise. Then I learnt
;

naissance a

that

another Cyclist lay wounded in the toll-gate house, on the bridge head itself, and that no one had been to see him since he had dragged himself inside the previous afternoon. Now, the road was enfiladed a well-timed run and I was through badly the window. Here lay my man with a
;

fractured

in no pain, for he had from the time he was tumbled from his bicycle beside the door. He was in urgent need of relief to one of his abdominal

spine

not

felt his legs

organs

this done, I

made him
left

comfortable,

him reading cigarettes, the regulations for wheeled vehicles crossing


gave him some

54
the

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


bridge,

and told him I would returnagain that night. He was a Lancashire Fusilier and he could not read French but left him quite happy and at ease. I Dropdown the bank again, there was still ping
;

that

yards of the path to be covered. How I hated those white stones But the sniper was late again, and I was beside my stretcher bearer in the friendly rushes. Another conversation shouted above the tumult, and the Sapper officer consented to
fifty
!

Now, try the crossing to ferry me across. this raft was constructed of green canvas, stuffed with hay, attached by a guy rope
But the had already done yeoman service in ferrying men and officers of the two battalions across, and was waterlogged. Anxiously I watched him, balancing precariously, as he worked the clumsy thing ashore. But, for
to a wire that spanned the river.
raft

this fellow, the bullets flicked the surface of I looked round and, of the stream in vain.
all

my

sixteen stretcher bearers,

only one

was beside me.


this

Gingerly we stepped upon

submerged craft and pulled ourselves across, and I was with the reserve company of my battalion. Now this Sapper officer's name was Johnston afterwards he got the
;

ACROSS THE RIVER

55

V.C. but was killed at Ypres in December. I shall not easily forget what an everyday

climb a a rush across the road the bank up tumble down the other side, and we swift a wood that seemed were in the wood How thankful I was that alive with death. we had come in time for there were wounded men everywhere and one didn't know where to begin. Then a corporal spoke to me and and I turned aside to a little hollow there lay young Amos, one of our junior subalterns. Only the day before I had spoken to him as we lay lazily listening to the overhead shelling in the woods behind
;

might have so splendidly indifferent he was.


affair

this

crossing

seemed

La

Sermoise.

He had behaved most

gal-

lantly at Mons, bringing in a wounded man of his platoon under a very heavy fire at a

than fifty yards. I remember I told him that he must have had a very watchful Guardian Angel. Now again had his Guardian Angel come to him but with a wreath. He must have died very swiftly, for the aorta had been severed. He was the most promising of our junior subalterns, just from Sandhurst yet he had become,
range of
less
;
;

But life was very already, a capable officer. short for all the officers in this battalion
;

56

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


if

death had not come now, it would surely have overtaken him in the next three months. At the edge of the wood, in a line with the shallow shelter trenches that our men had thrown up, was an old stone barn clearly the one place in all that wood for my dress;

and

ing station.

Established there, the

wounded

were brought to me, dressed, and such crude


surgery as was possible attempted. We had only the small surgical haversack, but it did good work that day. All day long the firing was incessant and our two companies, out along the fringe of the wood, were spread badly enfiladed. Steadily the stream of wounded poured in until, in the shelter of that wall, there were soon over 150 wounded and dying. But our morphia never gave out, and my orderly was a very great help. All the time the rifle bullets cracked like
;

whips above

us.

Then an

enfilading

machine

gun worked steadily round our right flank, and the wounded, behind the wall, were in danger. Out we went and fetched them into the narrowing angle of shelter that was left
;

still

the angle of safety narrowed, until I thought we should never keep our wounded whole. Then Pennyman was brought in,
all

limp and grey and cold

there was blood

A FIELD DRESSING STATION


on

57

his shirt in front, and my orderly, seeing the position of the wound, said, too loudly, that he was gone. This roused him, and I knew that the age of miracles was not past and that the bullet had just missed the big

vessels at the base of the heart.


officer of

Then an

West Rents, Willoughby-Bell by name, was rushed to me in haste by the men of his platoon he was bleeding furiously from a wound high up in the neck, and his carotid artery was divided. Fortunately I had a bandage and scissors in my hand, and
the
;

plugged that severed vessel against the bone of the hard palate. Very seldom is it that a surgeon has the satisfaction of knowing that he has most surely snatched a soul from death but this satisfaction was mine,
I
;

back to the Field Ambulance four days later. Coke and Dering and all our officers were splendid on that
for I sent

him

safely

dreadful day, walking all along the line, encouraging the men, giving me a good word and, all the time, supremely contemptuous of the death that rustled through the under-

growth. The German snipers were posted up the trees in the rising ground on the right flank and took a steady toll of our men
:

it

was they who got Amos

in the open,

and

58

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

One serving his machine gun. that one was very glad to be so close up and to be so helpful, and yet one felt so

Pennyman

felt

strangely helpless. There was so much to be done, and so many for whom surgery could do so little the abdominal cases that died

so soon
to die.

the brain cases that took so long of all the dreadful wounds in war the lacerating brain wound is the most
;

And
;

harrowing

restless, noisy, delirious,

the un-

happy victims struggle with the men who would restrain them, babbling of private
matters, of domestic things, crying for water
it out when brought. Morchloroform alone prevails to useless, phia still that brain to sleep, for an hour or two, until the morphia acts. But we were never

and yet
is

spitting

short of morphia or of chloroform

for that

we can be

grateful.
;

About six the firing died down and we could withdraw our furthest company and
entrench ourselves in safer shelters in the
again had got out on our right, it flung right had suffered the worst from sniper and machine gun. When it was safe to cross the road again and explore for a suitable shelter

wood.

Poor
;

"

"

Company

it

badly

for the night I found,

by lucky chance, the

very place house built on the foundations of a twelfth-

A NIGHT'S WORK 59 A semi-modern for my purpose.


;

century farm-house, in a high-walled garden four huge rooms and two big fireplaces placed in the stout cellars of the building. Great, that would withstand almost groined ceilings stone walls of unimagined any shelling thickness glass doors that opened to the Soon the floors were swept and gardens. large fires lit, clean straw from garnished a neighbouring wheatfield laid down, and It was clear that no ambuall was ready. On matlance could reach us that night. tresses and blankets, robbed from the rooms above, the chosen few of all our wounded were to lie. But it was getting dark and The boat rethere was much to be done. and an old punt discovered, soon the paired lightly wounded were ferried across the river and sent back, with good guides, to the food and tea and warmth that I knew Croker
; ; ;

had waiting for them in his hospital at La Sermoise. Then I hurried back to the wood and the hardest work began but I had left them a little too long and the morphia had begun to wear off. The wood was full of
;

groans

of cries of
;

men who thought they


of stertorous snores of

had been forgotten

unconscious brain cases.

Never could one

60

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


:

pitiless rain forget such a night as this no lights we dared to show for fear of bringing
;

upon us the machine guns that were so near no stretchers. Hastily improvising from waterproof sheets and blankets, stretched on to saplings, we gradually got the wounded tea was ready and our hospital. There grateful warmth and more morphia and soft straw. The stretcher bearers now across the river, worked like the good fellows they were and toiled up the slippery clay banks
;

with their painful freight all through the But it was hard to find the wounded night. and in the dark and some were very still those that lay far out in the wood kept silent, when help was so close, for fear we were an
;

patrol that through the wood.

enemy

had

come

searching
like

Wounded men,
in a

wounded
to hide.

birds, creep into ditches

and bushes

at night. The recollection yields nothing in horror to " " Dante's Inferno itself. Not until 3 a.m. did

Wounded men

wood

cease to hunt and find and bring them in and then we left some out. For next morntwo ing they reported three men lying out were dead, they would have died anyhow. and though But one was very much alive we tried to make amends, by giving him the hottest and most frowsty corner by the

we

FORAGING
fire in

61

the hospital, he recovered sufficiently to complain of our careless search, and still complaining, but otherwise fairly well, was carried off by the ambulance four days later.

Now the 13th Field Ambulance could not send their wagons to Missy to take away for the roads had been heavily the wounded shelled to incommode our wheeled trans;

and the groping searchlights from Conde Fort and Chivres Hill were ever on For three the lookout for ration wagons.
port
;

days our regimental headquarters tried to move Brigade headquarters to order the ambulances to help us out but ambulances were precious and we were left with all the wounded on our hands. Over 150 of them, K.O.S.B. and West Kents, lay on the straw but my Maltese cart had crept in hospital down from La Sermoise to the river and brought the medical and surgical panniers, beef tea and condensed milk. The feeding of the wounded was most difficult but my to the Field Ambulance were requisitions never disregarded and, every night, the orderlies would come back loaded with tins
; ;

of beef tea, milk,

and dressings and morphia.


especially
if

But wounded men cannot,

they be British, live on beef tea and ration biscuits alone. So I cast about for fresh

62

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

sources of supply. In a fine, moated house, a mile away along the river, might lie the food we wanted. Every evening, as the mist of dusk gave shelter from the ever vigilant snipers on Chivres Hill, I went out with an

But the farmhouse was occupied by a farmer and his wife who had been left in charge by the owner. The proprietor of this house and farm was, strange to say, an Englishman, who had
I

orderly to loot what

could.

married the lady of this house many years The place itself, a most beautiful ago.

example of fourteenth century building, had been partly wrecked by German shelling. At first it was not easy to establish satisfactory
relations.

All

the

way through
had paid chickens if she had,
:

France
its

this quixotic

army
!

of ours

the

Madame had no way. Germans had taken all And


!

No

they had no eggs

did

not

Monsieur

le

Majeur know that this was not the season And even if there were eggs, they for eggs ?
were
being
all

pauvres pauvres and Madame's heart urged softly melted. Jean would get me eggs Monsieur need not go to the hen roost with him. Milk ? How would Monsieur expect milk when the German shells had so terrified the cows ?
blesses," I
;
!

hatched.

under hens and in the process of "

But

les

FISHING
Butter
left
?

63

Perhaps a very
officer
!

wounded

portion for a Nevertheless, we always


little
;

and I came to laden with good things look upon my evening walk as the most pleasant part of the day, the only exercise Nor were these little trips quite I ever got. for the Engineers free from excitement were building a new pontoon bridge and the Germans knew it. By day the watchful
;

aeroplane hunted for this, the only means of crossing the river, and the ranging shells searched the river morning and night. Nor were the snipers altogether asleep. But luck was with us and the pontoon bridge suffered
;

little

damage.
;

The

chief

harm was done

to

for the exploding shells sent them floating down the stream in hundreds, belly " " Comupward, much to the delight of

the fish

pany
nets.

that lay entrenched

pulled them out with

by the river they improvised landing


;

But our position was a


a
military
sense.

Two

perilous one from regiments of the

Brigade, thrown across the river and occupying the main road and the village of Missy, three-quarters of a mile in advance, were
thrust, like a wedge, into the

German

on Chivres

Hill.

The West Kents were

position en-

trenched along the road, their headquarters

64
in

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

dugouts burrowed under the high bank. held the woods by the river and detached " " C Company, under Connell, our second in command, to hold Missy in conjunction with the East Surreys from the 14th Brigade. The latter held the line from the Bridge of Venizel to Missy. Later on, the West Ridings took over Missy village and endured a dangerous and exciting fortnight under constant There the reserve companies of shell fire. that regiment lived an underground life, in cellars, with all who were left of the obstinate French inhabitants nothing would persuade these men and women to leave their homes. But our flanks were both in the air and we had no line of retreat save by the damaged pontoon bridge. Why we were not rushed, we could never understand. We came to the conclusion that our salvation lay in the fact that the Germans were probably as much afraid of us as we were of them. Night and morning they shelled the road bridge, which they suspected we were trying

We

the trenches, the pontoon bridge, the working parties they knew were out also shared the attentions of the German gunners, but never did they actually get the hospital with a high explosive shell. The roof and
to repair
;

walls were riddled with shrapnel,

rifle

and

A DANGEROUS POSITION
machine-gun
fire,

65

the main building Shells fell in our garden, in the survived. We never fields beside us, in the road. whether they spared us deliberately or knew

but

whether we were too well screened by

trees.

Regimental headquarters, then consisting of Coke, Rupert Dering and myself, led an an old stone cider irregular life between

dug deep into the bank that sheltered us by day, and the hospital. This cellar provided them both with rather damp straw and in the hospital we met for breakbeds I slept above fast and our evening meal. the hospital and was awaked always at five by the morning shelling the glass had all, long since, been blown in, and such dressing as I did was a very draughty performance. But the back of the house looked on to the West Kent trenches, and the practice the German gunners made was excellent. Once I heard a shell coming and saw the haystack tremble and quiver as it lodged inside, without bursting. But our curiosity never led us to disinter that shell from the hay. The ambulance came at night to fetch my wounded away the 14th Field Ambulance from Serches over the bridge at Venizel
cellar,
; ;

the 13th, through La Sermoise down to the And the stretcher bearers carried river bank.

66
the

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


men

across the pontoon bridge. But never liked the job, for they ran a they constant risk from shelling. The groping fingers of the searchlight and the star shells on Chivres Hill would discover them on the road, and the orderlies fled hastily to the ditches. The German position was on Chivres
Hill, a long wooded range that lay back 600 yards from the river and dominated our whole position. It was very strong, well entrenched, and well wired in. The Yorkshire Light Infantry, who had been left as the reserve battalion of the Brigade in La Sermoise, had one very bad day from shrapnel in Gombeen Wood that

guards the approach to Conde Bridge. When I crossed the river that night, to look for some West Riding wounded that had lost their way, I met the K.O. Y.L.I, medical officer busy with the hundred odd casualties
his regiment had suffered there. For shrapnel fire in a wood is most terrifying ; the balls
fall in all

directions

one

is

never

safe,

and

the crashing of the bursts of shell through the branches of the trees exaggerates the
terror.

river

Conde Bridge was the weak point on the and our patrols kept a sharp eye on it at night, especially as the Germans were

NO-MAN'S LAND
often crossing the stream to fetch

67

hay and
This
in

fodder from the French

farm-house.

bridge was always strongly guarded, and

the early days one of our motor-cars with

two intelligence officers, had paid the last penalty

blindly trusting, for their rashness.

On
its

as the engine

the road stood the car, twisted sideways had stopped, the driver and two occupants all dead nor could we in
:

that no-man's-land salve the car or bury

its

grim occupants. Aisne the car was


freight,

When we
still

evacuated the there, with its dead


it

and

for all

we know

is

standing

there to-day.

We

had German wounded

in our hospital,

trophies that

we took
;

at the crossing

small

dark Wiirtemburgers and they watched me with frightened, rabbit eyes. We had to
for four days when ambuone terribly could not get to us wounded in the back. Whenever one of our soldiers, badly mangled by a bursting

keep two of them


lances

shell,

was brought into

their

room they

looked at

with timid furtive eyes, as if they feared that I should make reprisals. But they were very patient and uncomplain;

me

the other wounded men liked them and shared chocolate and cigarettes impartially between them. And when the ambulance
ing

68

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

took them away, they gave us their photoIn those days there was no anigraphs. at all on the part of any of us toward mosity the German only a sincere admiration for
;

their

with

soldierly qualities and which their wounded

the

patience
their

endured

sufferings.

night, at Missy, Dalrymple, the sub" " altern in charge of Company, accom-

One

panied by
fine

Skinner, his sergeant, did a

very

work up the river. The Germans had been using a motor launch and two rowing boats to cross the river, and
bit

of cutting out

Company determined to have them. Silently they made their way right into the enemy territory one night but the launch
;

"

"

rings in the wall. muffled his chisel with Skinner, undaunted, cloth and cut through the chain. At every stroke they feared the wakeful enemy patrols but luck was with them and they towed their fleet of boats in triumph down to us.
;

was moored by chains to

All this time, and we held the bridge and road at Missy for three weeks, we lost con-

stantly

by

shell

and snipers and

my

hospital

was

always Many of our casualties arose from sheer carelessness. The West Kent trenches ran in front of an orchard and that was more than our men could
full.
;

RECKLESSNESS
stand
:

69

the apples were red and Tommy would not be denied. Heedless of danger he would go out with a long pole to bring his But the sniper, from the tree prizes in. and those tops, knew his weakness too
;

rosy
in

sacrifice.

bought by very bitter Nor could our men resist fishing the river. They could not wait for the
apples

were

bursting shells to do their fishing for them. Often the officers watched, with horror,
before they drove the fishermen back to their dugouts, the vain attempts of some modern

Izaak Walton to beguile the fat chub with chunks of bully beef. There was the greatest difference between our dour and silent K.O.S.B. and the mercurial Londoners that made up so many of the men of the West Kents. There was always laughter and talk as I walked along the West Kent trenches, on those still warm
afternoons

when

the

German gunners took

some friends in Missy village. Three most charming officers they had who were always kind and generous to me Martin, the CO., who was later our Brigadier, Buckle, the second in command, and Legard, the Adjutant. The last two lost their lives at Richetheir rest, to see
;

bourg l'Avoue, on that


late October,

last dreadful

day

in

when the West Kents paid

so

70

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

great a price for disputing the advance of the Prussian Guard before La Bassee.

The morning shelling roused us early Coke and Dering would come to the breakfast that Turnbull, Dering's servant and our Bacon, tea, ration cook, would prepare. and (tell it not to Madame bread occasionally
;

of the farm) perhaps a little of her butter or an egg or two that I had extracted from her

the night before by the use of magic words, " We never les pauvres pauvres blesses!" at breakfast, for we never could lingered long tell when the inquisitive shell, that fell in the garden, might not find the house instead. After our first meal, I made my morning visit to yesterday's wounded and saw the morning
parade. The rosy apples told their story in the dysentery that plagued both but we felt that the cold and battalions the nightly vigil in the trenches exposure of were, perhaps, as much responsible for these
sick
;

internal disorders as the fruit.


for us all I

Fortunately

into shelter

was able to take the worst cases for I had beef tea, castor oil
;

and opium to relieve them. After a day or When so, back they returned to duty again. the hospital work was over, a funeral or two,
in the dahlia beds beside the garden wall,

had to be conducted with

all

ceremony.

THE DAILY ROUND

71
;

There was no prayer book in the regiment but use had made us familiar with the funeral
service.

Leaving the
of

orderlies

to

exercise

for the carving upon graves, I stepped lightly across the road to the headquarters cellar carefully choosing the little bit of cover that was the snipers' despair. Dering would then send my refor one or more ambulances to Brigade. quest Leaving him with Coke to settle the affairs of the battalion, I would steal a corner of Dering's straw bed and finish the sleep I had been robbed of by the early morning visit of the ambulance. After luncheon, when the sun worked round, we would idly watch the Taube that sought to locate our heavy gun battery in the woods by La Sermoise. Their method of signalling, in those days, was by coloured tracers of smoke, that the observer dropped like tiny silk ribbons in the sky. When above the battery the aerothe plane would perform a figure of eight centre represented by the crossing of the lines would be right over the target. If the resulting shell was too much to one or the other side, or over or under, the correction would be signalled by a coloured tracer. They did not pay much attention to our anti-

their

art

crosses

aircraft guns.

But when our machines were


F

72

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


for all
like
flies

the world amber dragon with shining bodies, in the clear blue the whole heavens would be with sky
up
silver
filled

the fleecy clouds of cotton wool that were


their shrapnel. Occasionally we combats in the air but nothing
;

would see seemed to

result

beyond the driving away

of the

aeroplane. aeroplanes are sent have no right to fight. observe, they

When

enemy up to

times one of us, and the falling pieces of shrapnel casing would drive us back to our funk-holes until the display was over.

Someour machines would be above

We
of

would often discuss German methods war, and I found no false pride among our

regular trained oflicers.


in this

The initial surprises war have been worked by the enemy. He it was who first discovered the value of heavy howitzers and the mortars that reduced the art of and the use Liege and Namur of the machine gun, and the extraordinary mobility of that weapon. Then there were the risks his machine-gun section would take
;

in pushing up a deadly enfilade.

gun

We

at night to effect the had known at Mons

The develophis superiority in aeroplanes. ment of the sniper's art, in his hands, we first
met with

we have

in the passage of the Marne. Now, for countless decades known the

SNIPERS
sniper Frontier
; ;

73

we have met him on the Indian we have felt his power in South Africa but we have never employed him as a real adjunct in our wars. The German as far as we could gather at this time, snipers,
;

were from the Jaeger battalions and recruited from the forest rangers of the big Imperial and ducal forests of East Prussia. Later only did I learn that sniping was also a disciplinary measure. Men, convicted of minor offences in the German trenches, would be sent out with 24 hours' supply of food and 200 cartridges the empty cases they
;

had

to show, as evidence of their exertions, behind or near our lines. These sharpshooters

were most
days,

excellent

shots,

and,

in

those

must have had fixed rests and telescopic The trees of Chivres Wood, whose sights. hid the snipers, were 700 yards from foliage our long communication trench along the Missy Road yet he would get the men of our fatigue parties, time after time, and
;

usually through the head.


Sitting one evening, in the warmth of the declining sun, outside headquarters cellar, we saw the most wonderful of all wonderful

escapes.

The men were out of their dugouts, on the grass at the edge of the wood their Scotch and argumentative, voices, loud,
;

74

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


up toward " us
"
; ;

floated

suddenly

without

four shells, bang, bathe smoke cleared and bang, bang. I was among them, I found, instead of the fragments of humanity I had expected, that

rafale warning a burst among them

of high explosive shell

When

only had been scratched. The moral and physical effect of shelling seems to vary with the degree of burial by to be the earth of the blown-in trench buried by a shell is always a shock partly to the nervous system and most of us had that experience at one time or another. An unexpected sound found that our nerves were rather jumpy for many months after. But men who have been completely buried and have to be dug out are often in a most pitiable

one

man

state

crying and distraught, though nowhere actually wounded. Then it is that a big
;

dose of morphia and a quiet rest works like a charm for, in six hours, the man will relieved be able to return to duty usually by the sound sleep that, more or less, washes out the memory of this shock to his higher
;

cerebral centres.

The

effect
;

of

more nervous analyse than physical. After the bad day we had on crossing the Aisne, and the still more
the

fatigue is strain is far

interesting

to

FATIGUE

75

anxious night with the wounded, all of us who fed together were strangely affected as soon as the immediate strain was lifted

from our shoulders two days later. We would always want to sleep anywhere and at all hours at our meals especially. Conversations were broken off by one or
; ;

the other falling asleep. Turnbull, our cook, had to wake us up in the middle of a meal.

We
that

would wander
filled
I

in our talk

and strange
tell

delusions

our

minds.

They

me
;

and

talked of horses with white fetlocks am not a horsey man. I know that

Dering could not get his mind off chickens Coke, also, had his special delusion. After a few days these delusions would fade away but the excessive sleepiness and a strange appetite for sugar, in the form of jam or chocolate, would remain with us
in a farm.
;

always.

One night a very young intelligence officer came in to join us in the bully beef stew that
Sergeant Robertson would cook for us day by day at La Sermoise and bring across the river in the darkness. He was serenely and his mission was to make a confident, night reconnaissance of the German position

by Conde Bridge.

We

would say nothing

76

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE

of

to dissuade him, but gave him some warning what we ourselves had learnt from our

patrols.

Never again did we hear anything


;

nor did we then think that more of him have the ghost of a chance of he would As he said good-night to us getting back. we thought of the motor-car near Conde Bridge, with its ghastly occupants, and
shuddered.

must not be taken for granted that the position was allowed to rest in peace during those soft September days. Our gunners sprayed the trees with shrapnel and made the snipers most uncomfortable while our big cow guns, on Ciry ridge, plastered But their trenches with high explosive. we had far less ammunition to waste than One of the favourite efforts of our they. big guns was to shell Conde Fort in the early
It

German

at the time, so our hours of the morning told us, that the enemy intelligence agents
;

ration parties

came
shells

to

draw

their supplies.

Three or four

must have annoyed them intensely. Anyhow, we always got shelled at Missy most savagely the day after such attentions on the part of our 6o-pounders. It was after one of these night
at 2 a.m.
shellings that the spire of Missy

Church at

SPIES
last
fell
;

77
shelled

it

had been
I

the whole fortnight. interior, or what was

had been

constantly to see the

previously
of ruins.

when

a few days the whole nave was a mass


left of it,

General Cuthbert, our Brigadier, came one day to say good-bye on his return to England. He had been in command of the 13th Brigade from the beginning, and we were all very
sorry that he was leaving us. About this time there was a sp3' scare, and we were all on the look out for two
officers

in

expected in

French uniform who might be a Staff motor-car, at any moment.


to
this

Any officers answering who attempted to get

description

information
I

would
heard

have been very sharply dealt with.

afterwards from French officers that it was a favourite trick of the enemy to send the spies, dressed as British officers, behind French lines and, in the uniform of French behind the British lines. officers, They trusted in the unfamiliarity of the respecand the tive Armies with Allied officers
; ;

natural

possibly Allied officers to the insult of arrest genuine as spies. Before this war, as a civilian, I cherished some of the commonly held views as to the

disinclination

to

submit

78

THE MIRACLE OF THE MARNE


Regular

ability of

Army

officers

but the

more I had to do with regimental headquarters the more highly I began to appreciate the very high level of capacity and general intelligence displayed by the average Commanding Officer and Adjutant of an infantry
It is one of the regiment. disadvantages of a free country that every fool is free to criticise

and condemn those who, in particular, may not and certainly would not trouble to answer criticism so ill-informed. But there is one
thing that has been established as a result of this war it is that it requires as much ability and a good deal more character, to run a
;

regiment well than to run the affairs of an average business house. Soon came the news that the whole Fifth
Division was going back to enjoy a really and well-earned rest. We had heard good this before but on this occasion the most
;

that we had a holiday when we were relieved by the Lancashire Fusiliers, we marched back to
sceptical

believed
So,

before us.

Ciry, over the familiar pontoon bridge, in the highest spirits, nor had we one regret in In the courtyard leaving Missy behind us. of the high walled barn that sheltered my Dressing Station on the first dreadful day

of

crossing,

we

left

Amos and

forty-seven

A GARDEN IN MISSY
N.C.O.'s and

79

men
It

in

many

more.

will

be

my hospital garden my first and most


home we used

pleasant duty to write to the Professor of Moral

Philosophy in Paris, whose

as a hospital, to tell him how grateful we were to be able to trespass upon so hospitable a

house.

His linen and blankets, I feel he would agree, could never have been put to
better purpose.

And

his dahlias, beside his

garden wall, them.

will gain

an added beauty from


that nourish

the British and

German dead

CHAPTER

III

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


Back, that
night,

we marched through La

Sermoise to Ciry to bivouac in the woods all next day. We were uneasy lest our promised rest should not, after all, come about but still we had faith. When, however, the next day took us on to Serches, and the
;

following days to Hartennes, of familiar and unpleasant memory, the sad conviction dawned upon us that we were in for no
of rest this time. On Ciry Hill we beside the grave of our Regimental paused

manner

Sergeant-Major, McWhinney, who, together with Captain Murray, our Quartermaster, had been blown up by the same shell some two weeks previously. As a rule, the road through the wooded slopes of Ciry hill was hidden from the guns on Conde Fort but just at this spot a white ribbon of road peeped out from among the green and lay in the full view of the enemy position beyond the Aisne. Thus, when our transport and
;

80

EN ROUTE

81

the West Kent wagons halted to allow the Cavalry ambulance to pass, a big shell At the moment the ambufell among them. lance was passing, Murray and the Sergeantshell killed

Major were sitting by the roadside. The poor McWhinney outright Murray was badly wounded many transport men were killed, with two of the medical officers of the ambulance. Murray died later, and is buried at a farm near Serches. There were
;

6 feet 5 inches of McWhinney and every both were most invaluable inch was good
;

officers.

From Hartennes we marched to Longpont and we felt convinced that we were off to Ostend. Probably we should garrison the town, we thought, and live in one of the how we would enjoy the last big hotels of the summer bathing Marching always
; ;
!

by
to

night,

and hiding

in the

woods by day
watchful

escape the observation Taubes, we pressed on to


Villers-Cotterets.

of the

Longpont and

Now, the long rest in Missy trenches, wet and cold and exposed, had brought about a
all officers peculiar neuritis in the feet of and men. This, no doubt, was partly due also to the fact that we had not had our

boots

off

for

three

weeks.

There

was a

82

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

peculiar numbness of the big toe especially, and intense pain in the feet on marching, but after a few miles the pain was relieved,

only to return with redoubled vigour when a halt was called and we might rest. Rest, but kept marching however, we could not
;

up and down the


kept us
all

road.

By day when we

tried to sleep in billet or bivouac the pain

awake.

to keep our boots on while we slept to take the phenacetin we were so

The only remedy was and


;

supplied with. A very lame and halting battalion passed through Villers-Cotterets one night and after a most exhausting march came down the hill to the quiet mill and farm of Wallu. Of all this long march, of all our billets and bivouacs, these two days'
;

plentifully

rest at

Wallu are the pleasantest

recollection.

Arriving at five in the morning, the companies took immediate possession of the farm and mill and lay down to But for
sleep.

no place, till spied a house, a shooting box by the antlers that adorned the outer walls, and the large kennels behind the house. We were very tired, short-tempered, cold and hungry, and I fear, we battered on the door with no great ceremony. Judge, then, of our astonishment when an upper window was
Headquarters
see

we could

we

COMFORTABLE QUARTERS
raised

83

and a beautiful young lady leant out


! !

and asked in perfect English who we were Profuse apologies and what we wanted All we asked of Mademoiselle was a room Then an elderly gentleman to sleep in and welcomed us very kindly appeared throwing mattresses from his upper windows and giving us the key of his lower rooms. We very soon laid the mattresses on the But, by this floor, and Coke was soon asleep. time, our host had appeared in a flowered dressing-gown. He woke his servants, lit the kitchen fire and helped the mess sergeant
!

Two very pleasant followed in the society of that charming days young lady and her father. When we left,
to

cook us breakfast.

presented our one of the transport exhausted, but giving horses, now quite with food and care and rest, every hope, Mademoiselle of regaining his former vigour. was delighted, especially when we told her Punch's story how he had been hit high in the neck at Mons and dropped for dead, up the traces cut and the horse abandoned.
Miles,

the

transport

officer,

hostess

with Punch,

But what was


transport
lines,

Miles' surprise to find in his

three

days

morning dead horse had come to

of the battle of

later, on the Le Cateau, that the


life.

Among

all

84
the

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

crowded transport of the Third and Fifth Division the gallant horse had found his way in the necessary disorder of a very
hurried retirement, back to his
again.

own regiment The wound had merely the effect of

stunning the horse temporarily.

From Wallu we marched past Bethancourt, north of Crepy, the scene of the last rearguard action the battalion had fought in in
the
great
Retreat,

and on to Pont
the entrained and
river

Ste,

Maxence.

Crossing

Oise

on

made pontoon bridge, we Amiens to Abbeville. We way through detrained, and in two days, partly on our feet and partly by French motor transport, the whole Brigade reached St. Pol. Here we billeted one night with the village priest and set off towards Bethune through the industrial and mining region of NorthEastern France.
got into touch with the French Cavalry and Colonial troops, Senegalese, Turcos, Spahis in all their highly picturesque equipment. But we did not fail

a our

On

the

way we

to notice how spent and exhausted the horses, not only of the artillery ammunition trains, but also of the cavalry, appeared. Ours

were in no better
Finally

case.

we

arrived at

Beuvry and

billeted

A MIDNIGHT CALL
at

85

In the huge stable yard the chateau. room and enough for the whole there was Our hostess, battalion and their transport. a widow, made us very welcome, prepared us an excellent dinner, and with her two daughters, entertained us most kindly. We
that night, but not for long as far as I was concerned, for at two in the morning I was called up by the French surgeon in charge of the infantry battalion
slept

in

real beds

in Beuvry, and bidden come with him, in haste, to see a man who had been badly

wounded by a French sentry. I woke up my sergeant, and packed our surgical panniers on to a stretcher and brought it along with us to the house where the wounded man lay. The story was a strange combination of

An old man, sixty-five years circumstances of age, deaf and dumb, had chosen that night at 11.30 to go for a walk in the village street. Being deaf he could not hear the French
!

sentry's

repeated

challenge

being

dumb,

he could not have answered, if he had. So the sentry shot and only too well. It was war, and the country was alive with spies one could not blame the sentry. But the
;

old

man was

"

in extremis."

gave him ease

of his pains, while the French doctor comforted the relatives. When I got back to the only

86
real

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


:

bed I had had since I left England, it was time to move on again the battalion was at breakfast, and the transport fallen in. Coke made a very graceful farewell to our hostess, and we marched out for Annequin
in the densest of dense fogs, little knowing that the fog was to be our salvation.

Making our way past the stone barricades blocked the street, we swung righthanded beyond the town and marched, still
that
in fog, along the road that faced the chateau and the woods of Vermelles. Here we were

again in touch with the French on our right, and for the time, we and the West Rents, who followed us, were under the command of the French Brigadier-General. The fog

showed

signs

of

lifting,

so

trenches

were

hurriedly dug in a field of sugar beet beside the road the road ditches were deepened to form a reserve trench and the regiment
;

gained safety. And not a moment too soon the fog lifting, we were within 300 yards of the woods that encircled the chateau. Had we still been in that open road, it would have spelt disaster. At a cross road was a small restaurant. Here I established my
;

for,

advanced dressing station while half a mile back along the road that was at right angles to our position, the second and third dressing
;

UNDER SHELL FIRE


stations
;
;

87

one behind a line were placed the other farther back in a of haystacks culvert where the railway crossed deep farther back still the Maltese cart was driven into the courtyard of a farm under a high From this farm an easy road led slag heap. back to Annequin, so that the line for the evacuation of the wounded seemed fairly But when I got back to the battalion, secure. Dering's sound judgment showed me that I was wrong, for he feared that the slag heap would be shelled as an observation post belonging to the heavy French battery behind it, and that my sergeant with the Maltese cart would be in danger. But now the fields were swept with rifle and machine-gun fire in the distance the blue- jacketed French Hus:

sars galloped for the railway


safety.
It

embankment and

was too risky to get back now,


could not send a stretcherin the ditch with

and

I certainly

bearer.

Lying

my

back

to the enemy, I watched the shrapnel screaming over us to sweep the crest and slopes

the big slag heap watched the mine shafts and mine buildings gradually crumble and disappear and felt worried for Sergeant
of
:

lent.

Thompson. The gunnery practice was excelSoon there slipped down beside me
a

young French

sous-officier

of

the

nth
G

88

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


:

by name, the son of the man " he spoke excellent The Nun American, and beguiled me with stories of the Uhlans he had shot at Longwy and in Alsace. Quite a number of these exploits I could well believe, for he was very cool and quiet under the shelling that we were having. Small, dark and debonair, he was

who wrote

Hussars, Bazin "

the

Brigadier Then I slipped across to the Gerard." little house to see that the stove was lighted and all ready for the casualties that were Beside the wall of the house, sure to come.

incarnation

of

"

Doyle's

and in shelter, were two beautiful French armoured cars that had crept quietly up from behind. On one was mounted a pom-pom, both of the on the other a mitrailleuse most exquisite design. Little, low, grey cars they were with the muzzle of the gun pointing
;

out behind through a mantlet of steel, that showed the marks of many shrapnel balls. The officer in charge of the Colonial artillery
then, getting exhibited his two treasures he boarded the an order from his staff, mitrailleuse car and proceeded to go into action. Now, just here was a lane that led
;

at

in right angles up to some haystacks the road was front of the enemy position On the reverse sunken and the shelter good.
:

ARMOURED CARS

89

gear these two little cars followed one another quite slowly and cautiously, under the shelter of the bank, until they reached the cover of the haystacks. Then they commenced firing the pom-pom point blank into the wood the mitrailleuse so in series of five shells rapidly that one could not count. The
;
;

French mitrailleuse fires much more rapidly than our machine guns or the Germans'.
a shell fell Then the enemy spotted them in the roadway, and out of action came those
;

cars

bounding down the lane at

full

speed,

to

draw up once more triumphantly beside my wall. The French gunner calmly un-

screwed the hot barrel of the mitrailleuse* replaced it by a cold one, and looked to me for the approval I could not withhold. Then the West Kents from behind our position arrived to take over part of our trenches, and the French General came to consult his
English they compared
:

two

Colonels.

At 3 p.m.

their watches

precisely the attack

would start the West Kents on the left and the French infantry on the right. At 3 p.m. exactly, the West Kents, two companies of them, rose from their trenches and rushed
forward to the assault.
declared their strength
as
it

Then the enemy and fire was poured, seemed, from hundreds of machine guns

go

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


wood and along the chateau wall. the men of the West Kents taking
:

within the

Down went

cover in the high tops of the sugar beets fortunately high enough to cover the man and his pack. As the French battalion rose to advance the enemy fire was on them. The French were very gallant in the matter of
charging.

They are quite different from us. Our men charge in open order and short
;

the French in platoons like coveys of partridges. They rise together and spread out like a fan, then again converge in a hollow or a bank, like a covey jugging in a Their line of advance grass field at night. rushes

was open stubble beyond the roots, and the October sun shone brightly on them, twinkThey would chatter ling on their red legs.
together behind.
:

one could hear their voices well Then they would agree on another
;

good bit of cover and rise to spread out then close in again. But the German machine gunner was no fool, and trained his gun where they had dropped, and as the red caps appeared all together above the sheltering fold of ground, he let them have it. It could not be done, and back came the blue and red figures, back into the West Kents' trenches. On the yellow stubble were the thick parti-coloured
bundles, so vividly distinct in the sunshine.

AN UNSUCCESSFUL ATTACK

91

The West Rents had fifty casualties that afternoon, and Croker, speaking to me later,
could not say enough for the most intrepid way in which the French doctor and his stretcher-bearers went right out among the sugar beets under very heavy fire to find,
pick up, and bring back quite a the wounded.

number

of

The K.O.S.B. then fell back to the road and made a flank march of about a mile
to the left, and, opening out, advanced under cover of the trees and hedges to attack the village of Cuinchy, just west of the canal. There was a lot of front to cover, and we could not afford to have a company in reserve. "A" Company held the main road

Annequin and the big barricade. Company, led by Gillespie, rushed the " B" cemetery in great style and held it. Company advanced over open ground and dug themselves in, with Smith, the company commander, badly wounded in the arm. " D " Company, as usual, struck a bad patch to the right of the canal where the enemy were in strength, and at last won to the shelter of some haystacks. My main dressing station was placed in a cottage well
out of " "

behind, under the charge of Thompson, the

most

reliable,

and kept, by

orderly, in touch

92 with

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


the
Field
I

Ambulance right back in watched the companies into Annequin. action, standing with Coke and Dering by But soon the machine-gun fire a cottage. " D " Company was getting told us that it badly, and I knew that this was no place for me. With my orderly I found a sheltered path
"

D up to the left flank of Company and broke in the door of a house on the main road. Soon we had the fire lighted and all the mattresses from above
brought down to the warm kitchen. Peeping over the wall, we found that what we had the open ground over feared was correct which the company had advanced had taken
;

"

its toll of

men and

officers,

and on the plough-

land in front of the sheltering belt of sugar beet I could see the tell-tale straps on the bodies of two officers. They were lying

on

their

sides

and were very

still,

and

knew what that meant. The rest of the company had won the cover of the haystacks, and had thrown up a shelter trench in the roots. Then dusk fell, and mercifully put an end to
though the field was almost as light with burning haystacks and star shells. day Our guns had set light to the haystacks behind the enemy trenches every movement
the fight
as
;

of ours

was

visible,

and the search

for

wounded

SEARCHING FOR WOUNDED


among

93

the green tops of the beets was quite a ticklish task. It was difficult enough to find the wounded, right away in front of the trenches, the undaunted fellows who had led the company far ahead and not an easy matter to keep one's sense of direction. Only by the methodical beating of the roots, in line, could one be sure that one's stretcherbearers would not become disorientated and wander on into the enemy trenches. Five burning haystacks I had taken as my landmark, but no sooner were we out than the same haystacks seemed to be duplicated suddenly at all points of the compass. Times without number machine guns opened fire, stretchers had to be dropped and cover taken
;

by lying flat. But we got them all back, and then I turned to two haystacks where some other wounded lay. There I found Dalrymple wounded in the thigh, but very excited and happy he was proud of the
;

men

that afternoon, and refused the morphia I offered him to ease the pain of the stretcher journey that was before him. Many men

were dead and many wounded beyond hope. In the open among the first to fall were Major Allan and young Woollcombe. Death

had come
out

to
;

them very
they
lay

pain

swiftly and withas they pitched

$4

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

forward without movement, shot through the


heart.

Very busy were we in that little house sixty wounded for morphia and dressings. They were most grateful for the warmth, for wounded men surfer acutely from shock, they are so cold, so sweaty and so thirsty. When the morphia acts and the tea and the
:

tive

inevitable cigarette, that incomparable sedafor shaken nerves, arrive, the whole Unless a aspect of a dressing station alters.

man
stills

is

w ounded
r

quite cheerful

and very

desperately, he soon talkative.

becomes
Morphia

the pain without having a great narcotic effect in times of excitement like this. At
three o'clock in the morning the last wounded had been taken to the main dressing station,

and the ambulances were waiting. Dalrymple was eating an egg, and in the most wonderful he had changed his mind about the spirits the morphia. Smith was in great pain paralysis of his hand showed a serious nerve Only yesterday his wife had written, injury. " " nice that he would get the wound hoping that would bring him safely back to her her wish was granted, for it was quite plain that Smith would have to be, for many months, at home before his arm was well again. The ambulance drove away and we were
:

AT THE MAIRIE
free to sleep,

95

but not for long. At the first machine guns woke me again. light, Back we went to the little house that did us such good service the night before. But this time things were better organised, and seven dressing stations were established
the
;

three along the front line in sheltered cotfour in easy stages between the line tages and the village of Cambrin, where our headquarters were.
;

With
officer

he was then engaged with one of our


;

difficulty I

found the senior French

the barrel of a mitrailleuse poked through the tiles of a house. My wishes stated, this very courteous
artillery observation officers

put the whole town at my disposal. Any house I liked to take and all the resources of the town were mine. So Thompson
officer

was

installed

in

the
;

Mairie.

We
felt

had

to

break the doors down

but

that the

best only was good enough for the wounded In each of the two smaller of our battalion. stations were two stretcher bearers, with
boiling and dressings ready. To every station a sheltered path, a row of willow trees or a sunken road. The

stoves alight,

kettles

wounded were brought straight in and help was ready at once. " " Again poor D Company, this time under

96

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


from
"

Company, with Macrae as his only subaltern, had its usual bad luck. Orders had been given out the night before " from Brigade for an attack by B" and " D " Companies at dawn. It appears that the German information was not faulty, and the enemy was ready for us. In the night,
after our night patrol, under the indomitable Sergeant Skinner, of motor launch fame, had got into touch with the Dorsets to our left along the canal, the watchful enemy had run a machine gun into the back garden

Caird

C"

just

my dressing station and had us enfiladed. At dawn the companies rose and advanced but it was more than flesh to the attack and blood could stand, and there was nothing for it but the cover of the roots. But here the roots were thin and the men's packs showed above the green tops. Up and down that line of packs the machine gun swept
of
;

until our field gunners forced it back. All were the enemy infantry in front sighting day their rifles on the packs, shortened the range

trifle

and picked

off

our devoted men.

When

along the roots that night there all lying in a row. One could only tell the dead because they did not groan when shaken all were stiff with
I crept

were thirty-nine

cold or death.

The wounded were dragged

ENFILADED

97

out by the heels into the trench and safety, the dead we had to leave. There was one unconquerable man with bright red hair, almost more conspicuous than the bonnet, which all men in action are ordered to remove. He was in a state of rigor mortis with his rifle to his shoulder and his cheek a little shelter pressed closely to the stock trench thrown up before his red head and
;

his entrenching tool left in front for cover. He had realised that his worst enemy was the

machine gun on his left and had turned to he must have collected a lot of at it other men's ammunition, for in addition to his own 150 rounds, he had fired at least 200 more before death fixed him in the
fire
:

I knew the man for an he had the Belgian ribbon in his bonnet that only the original men of his battalion had got from the Belgian girls the night before Mons. All day long from one dressing post to another I made my way. We must have been the despair of the snipers they had five of our signallers on their way with got

attitude of old soldier

life.

messages, and the pipe-major was lying in the ditch, very badly wounded, but sufficiently alive to be more worried about his pipes than his wound that we dared not

98

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

properly dress.
his

Two pellets of morphia on was the best that one could do. tongue " That day, D " Company lost both its
;

officers

Caird,

the

"

C" Company Comin the early

mander, badly wounded


:

morn-

ing advance, lay out for twelve hours before we could get to him Macrae, the sole

surviving

yesterday's engagement, and died later in the ambulance. And the Dorsets on our left were in worse trouble than we, for they had

officer of

was

hit in the head,

advanced in force against Givenchy. All day long the machine guns hammered and shrapnel swept that unhappy regiment. By evening they had 400 casualties, including sixteen officers. So light was the field of fire the brewery behind them was ablaze

that the Dorset doctor could not get to all his wounded, and they lay out that night.

broke and the fire died down the slightly wounded were alive the only cold rain and exposure effectually robbed
;

When morning

the rest of their chance of life. Here, then, was an instance of the value of warmth, tea and a sheltered dressing station. Of one

thing

one can

wounded men

be certain, that severely will not stand the exposure of

night on the field and survive. Wounds associated with much shock, compound frac-

THE FIGHT CONTINUES


ture
of

99

the hip and shoulder joints, and fracture of the thigh, chest wounds, will often
initial

do quite well, and rapidly recover from the shock when the soldier is kept warm,
given.

and morphia

Late that night the ambulance came to Cambrin and evacuated the majority of the wounded but the others were on my hands
;

all

night.

Padre, the only Scottish regiment of the Brigade, came out to bury Major Allan, Woollcombe,

who always kept

About midnight the Presbyterian a kindly eye on this,

In the early hours file. the Pioneers, under Sergeant Pike, brought in the dead and buried them in the orchard behind a little farm.

and the rank and

but we had and knew that Guinchy was far too strong to storm. No more expensive onslaughts. But the enemy were not inclined to let us rest, and attacked the cemetery and the barricade, happily without success. That morning our machine gun under Anthony Dering was in action close to the advanced dressing station. My work over, I went across the road to Connell. At that moment the machine-gun corporal was hit in the chest. As he sank down, I well remember that our feeling was not one of
fight continued,

Next day the

learnt our

lesson

ioo

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

horror, as one might expect, but of surprise and wonder that so much dust could rise

from

his

tunic.

stretcher

bearers

Later on, I took some out to empty the ad-

vanced dressing station of wounded, and on the way conducted the reserve half-company led by Robertson, one of our newlyarrived
as
subalterns,

up

to

reinforce

"B"

I knew the road well, but, just " arrived at the lane that led up to B" Company's trenches, a tremendous cheer rose

Company.

we

from the whole

line of

German

trenches.
fire

furious burst of machine-gun

followed

and the whole German line rising to the attack charged down upon us. Particularly " in the direction of D " Company, now in command of Ferguson, did the main attack and that company appear to be coming had been sadly depleted during the previous two days. Robertson's half-company was caught in the open and the position was critical, but there was no hesitation about
;

young officer. Ordering his men to double he ran them rapidly up into the trench If the enemy had burst through we in front. were all done. On either flank we were cut off. " But " D Company held fast and the attack fizzled out before our trenches were reached.
this

Ferguson told

me

that though 2,000 at least

HOLMES,

V.C.

101

had cheered, only 200 Germans had charged and our rapid rifle fire stopped them, the The scare over, rest turned tail and fled. we set to work to collect our wounded, now increased by Dorsets, Yorkshire Light Infantry, and some Belgian soldiers. The latter were very brave and insisted on being allowed to bring their rifles with them to
the ambulances.
to keep them,

Why
I

they were so keen


all

when they were

more or

could never discover. less severely wounded, Among the K.O. Y.L.I, was a machinegun corporal, afterwards known to fame as " the Bermondsey V.C." He was a very
gallant fellow, and, though severely wounded in both thighs was very anxious to tell me

that he had just that day been awarded the " "Medaille Militaire by the French, for service at Le Cateau. Holmes, conspicuous that is his name, retiring with the remains
of his section,
field

had come across one of our

guns, the leading horses and all the gunners laid out by a burst of shrapnel. Cutting out the leaders and putting a Bombardier, the only survivor, on the limber, he

mounted the wheels and brought the gun out of action into safety. But the pace was hot and he did not tarry in his headlong flight, so the poor Bombardier was jerked

102
off

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


the limber,

and was never heard

of

again.

Late that night we were relieved by the French, and the Colonel of the battalion, with some of his officers, came to sup with us at Headquarters minced bully beef and eggs

was the

feast.

as a lad he

The Colonel told us that had fought in the war of '70.


their

Most businesslike they were as they led

battalion to relieve us, bringing their tele-

phone, and creeping in silence along the grass by the side of the road up to our trenches. But our men, asleep from sheer exhaustion,

grumbled loudly at being wakened and set " up a loud chorus of Where's ma entrenching
flavoured with the British soldier's favourite adjectives, as if there were
tool,"
etc.
:

all

no such things as German machine guns


within 200 yards. When they were finally persuaded to leave their trenches, they chattered so loudly down the road that our

French friends were positively aghast at such indifference to the risks of war. But we were always like that. That night, as the ambulances had not yet arrived, I stayed behind at the main dressing station in Cambrin and slept on
the floor of the best bedroom of the Mairie. Next morning a little procession, headed by

AN ENEMY RUSE

103

the Maltese cart, pursued the battalion back

through Annequin and Beuvry to Richebourg l'Avoue, where we halted. The Germans had evacuated the town, leaving evidences of their late occupation in a number of dead
horses
graves.

that

smelt

to

heaven,

and many

Among them officers' graves, begarlanded with evergreens, and each surmounted by the dead man's helmet. It says a great deal for the respect our soldiers paid to these graves that weeks after the helmets were The retreating German doctor still in place. had left a message pinned on to the door of a house for the English doctor who, he knew, would be following it was to the effect that there was a child in the house, sick of meningitis, and that it should not be disturbed. The room was hot and crowded with men and women, Belgian refugees, but the German doctor was right, and the child was gravely ill. Medicine was given and full directions for treatment left, together with a supply of beef tea and condensed
:

milk.

Bassee, but he laughed as he asked me about the child. " What soldiers you English are," he said.

that

Weeks later when I was a German doctor in La

prisoner, I

met

"

Did

it

not strike you that that child had

104

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


less

no
in

than two mothers and four fathers If you had during your the house ?

you would have found six of our telegraph signallers left behind. You did not even cut our telephone cable and we got the most accurate information of the strength of your Brigade as
halt also searched the attics

you passed through." It was all so true.

never did suspect anxious relatives of being spies or search the half-ruined houses, or even cut the fine
insulated copper wire that lay so abundantly along the roadside though we often remarked on the careless and extravagant way the
:

We

German

We

engineers left their wire behind them. shall never become masters of spying or

intrigue.

art of bribery, even, we do not understand, as this war has so abundantly but at learned at last demonstrated.

The

We

Can we wonder that during what a cost the early months of war every move of ours seemed to be anticipated, and every impor!

tant Brigade order known to the enemy as soon as to the battalions themselves ? In the street at Richebourg I noticed a A lime tree, not more than curious freak.

6 inches in diameter, had been perforated by a 3-inch shell a round hole was cleanly driven through it, yet the tree was otherwise
;

NEW QUARTERS
intact

105

and

still

standing.

That night we

bivouacked at the

distillery west of Lorgies, and knew that La Bassee, four miles away, was our new objective. In the night we went along the main chaussee, the important highway towards La Bassee, to the crossroads at Lorgies. There we woke up Headquarters of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, then sleeping in the soft straw on the floor of an inn. We were to relieve them before dawn and I naturally wanted to find a good house

for

my

dressing

station

as

sheltered

as

possible, and yet reasonably near to the front trenches. A regimental doctor who is not up with the Companies is no good. To expect wounded men to be brought half a mile or so to the rear to a dressing station, to is to ask too much of stretcher bearers require a wounded man to cover the dangerous half-mile behind the trenches, helped along slowly by his pal, is to provide the sniper with a mark of which he well knows how to take advantage. Often and often, times without number, have unwounded men been sacrificed in bringing back a wounded man to the doctor. Coke, the most careful of commanding officers, would only be satisfied if he himself
;

io6

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

inspected the trenches which his battalion was expected to occupy, and if he personally got into touch with the battalion on either

In the prisoners' camps in Germany you will meet one or two companies of many of the regiments of the British Army, captured at one swoop after desperate
side.

resistance.

The

that

pushed gap between two battalions and dominates both


of trenches at dawn therein often the key to these captures on a large scale. To get into touch, to keep in touch and to keep on keeping in touch that saves a battalion from disaster. Back again to our billets, and before
lines
lies
; ;

is

enfilading up at night

machine
into the

gun,

dawn we were
dressing station

all

was

safely in position. chosen in a most suitable

My
all

walled farm-house, built in a square, with a


central fold yard, pigsties

and cowhouse
kiln

round
top.

granaries

and tobacco-drying
behind the
for

on

It lay just

line of trenches,

and a sheltered way

wounded ran behind


field.

the hedge of the tobacco were established in the

cellar of the

Headquarters house

to my left front. On our right lay the Cheshires strung out in trenches to the town of Violaines with its sugar factory, with its dominating chimney. Violaines itself was

AN ATTACK

107

occupied by the Cheshires and the Dorsets. On our left the Manchesters held trenches
to
lilies.

had been lent temporarily to the 15th Brigade, and we did not like it a little bit. At length came the expected order to attack, and very gallantly over the open,
through
fields

We

of

the

eternal

Company. The cow-guns behind us and 18-pounders had plastered the enemy trenches with lyddite and storms of
went
shrapnel swept the parapets, but although the German trenches were well constructed and timbered, most of the enemy took shelter behind the big sugar factory in front of

"

A"

sugar beet,

which they had dug their trenches. Now, an evening reconnaissance had been previously made, and the presence of six machine this was gun emplacements determined to Brigade. So when "A" Comreported
;

pany, very

much attenuated by

this time,

advanced to the attack these machine guns opened out and proved the accuracy of the reconnaissance. There was nothing for it but to take what cover could be had, and to withdraw at night Lindsay and Holme, who led the attack, escaped unhurt, but the company lost about 50 per cent, of its strength. There are times when men apparently go
;

io8

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


;

nothing will restrain them. Such for Sergeant Stewart and some men would not take cover, but dashed off over the open stubble, six men to storm the whole of La Bassee. There
a case happened here

mad and

and there they lie to this day, I know. Stewart had done his and had just got an extwenty-one years
they
fell,

as

far

as

"A"

cellent job as timekeeper in a factory in Scotland. He had been ill at Wallun, and The attack that I had seen much of him. Company made disclosed one curious that in the front German trenches, fact,

not more than 300 yards away, a light field gun was mounted, firing point-blank shrapnel on our forward trenches. One of our sergeants coming back with a message was hit

by an unexploded shrapnel shell his pack was torn clean away as well as his tunic, but beyond intense shock and a grazed
:

shoulder he was intact.

For two weeks we lay in front of La Bassee, we knew every church tower and the windows of the sugar factory by heart. All went well with the medical arrangements and though a constant stream of wounded kept me constantly busy, we always got our
until
;

wounded in before daylight. Night after night we beat the roots in front of the trenches

LA BASSEE
and searched the
were at
friends,
fault.

109

ditches.

But once we
"

Two men

of

A"

Company,

every individual soldier has a with whom he shares everything, were pal hit in front of the trenches and we couldn't find them. They had mistaken our stealthy search for the approach of an enemy patrol and kept quite still when help was once very close at hand. One had a fractured spine the other a shot through the shoulder. The man with the fractured spine was in no pain, and with the privileges that attend friendship, cursed his comrade for not bringBut his friend could do no ing him in. more than drag him to a ditch. They
as

quarrelled
pitiful

all

night
flag

and

still

quarrelling

we

found them next day.


little

In the morning a was seen waving a very


;

dirty handkerchief tied to a stick. From the roof of the farm hospital the whole line of trenches was easily in view, and I noticed how extraordinarily conspicuous the flat caps of our soldiers were. They never blend into any landscape, and the most carefully concealed trenches are given away by the even circles that are so No wonforeign to any natural background. der that the Taube, that quartered the ground, could direct so accurate a shrapnel

no THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


upon our trenches. There is, in fact, no compensating advantage in the flat cap there must be a break in the contour of any form of headgear to make it unnoticeable.
fire
;

The

feather

the

Queenslanders

wear,

the

drooping

Bersaglieri mask an otherwise conspicuous hat. The German

plumes of the
it

helmet, were
is

not for the

tell-tale spike,

Here, one day, Gillespie, good one of the most promising and responsible of all our subalterns, was brought in with the type of brain wound for which surgery,
as as any.

that can often do so much, could do nothing at all. We buried him the next day under the pear tree behind the farm-house. One of our subalterns, Cox, was to the
casual observer not the least the type of

man

for the stern reality of war. perfect knowledge of French and a fondness for the intel-

lectual
soldier,

life

marked him as a most un-English but in that aesthetic body lived a

When some men of his spirit. had their heads down behind a Company parapet and were at the mercy of the German attacking party that had their heads up and
most splendid
covered every inch of our parapet with rifle fire, Cox rallied his men and got their heads up to see where they were shooting, in spite of machine-gun fire that sprayed along the

MAP READING

in

trench and flicked dust from the parapet. Ready wit came to his aid, and calling out, " You are not afraid of a pack of blooming

German
platoon.
fine

waiters, are

"

you

The wound

in his

he pulled up his neck that was the

he paid did not prevent him sticking to

his job all

was

day long ; only at night, when all did he come to me for dressing, and quiet,

then insisted on going straight back in spite of the strongest objections I could make.

The ambulance wagons used to come to Lorgies, to the


killed at

He was

Hill 60.

roads, but the regimental stretcherbearers have to carry the wounded the long
cross

distance from the hospital to the crossroads. position of these crossroads on the map " coincided with the L " of Lorgies hence, when special messages were sent to the field ambulance, the place of meeting was always

The

designated by its map position in relation to one of the letters of the printed word. So much has this map reading and map designation
it is

become the feature


shall
'

of the Service that

you, Bill," bloody," was his One morning, gazing idly in the direcreply. tion of the German trenches with my glasses, I noticed a soldier get out of the trench and o
'

Where chum, " At the second

told of one private soldier addressing his "


I

meet

in

ii2

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

run back to pick up something, and then return to the trench again. He had his pack and helmet on, and I knew that he would not be carrying his equipment for pleasure. Luncheon, it so happened, was served that day in a dug-out, substituted on account of increased shelling for the village house, where we were before. When I told Coke of what I had seen, I found that he had already

gauged the seriousness


realised even without

of the situation

and

my

piece of evidence

that
in

we might

well

have to meet an attack

It was wonderful luck that we that morning, for the house was blown to pieces after we had had breakfast. force.

moved

Just after luncheon an urgent call came from the Cheshires their CO. had been wounded and their doctor could not get to him, would I go ? Of course I would, and did. We got him safely to a cottage, with a
;

hot

stove,

dressed

his

wound and gave

morphia, not only to relieve pain, but also to still the lung movement as far as possible, and thus attempt to stop the haemorrhage into the chest cavity which follows these wounds of the chest. But Mahony was an old West African Officer, and the shock was
Officers and great. service stand severe

men

of

long

tropical

wounds very badly.

THE ENEMY ATTACK


Though
I

113

got

him

safely

back to ambulance

Our that night, I heard that he died later. return from this cottage was barred by an

enemy machine gun making such


that practice on the door to get out. When I try
it

excellent

was madness to had finished with


attic.

Mahony,
the

went up to the top

And

as I looked the

German
it

enemy attack developed and infantry left their trenches. To


;

me

was in many ways the most interesting for, from this point of sight I had seen we could watch the whole attack vantage from the beginning. Now we were always told, and up to now it had been our experience, that German soldiers had no initiative, that they were that they charged in swarms, automata because the individual advance was im;

possible to such

men

drilled so

thoroughly

by the machine that they were incapable of separate independent action. But these Germans broke all these rules as they had so often done in other ways before. They poured out
of the ends of the trenches, spread out into most perfect open order and advanced at the

nor was any officer visible. Some double ran and dropped, so that I thought the whole line had been wiped out by our fire, but these men were foxing and those who fell face
;
;

H4 THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


downward soon got up Not so with the killed
on
to run forward again. or wounded, they lay
their sides or, spinning round in the air, they fell supported by their packs, in a half

They were reclining position. their backs to our trenches,

sitting with their heads

dropped forward, and they looked as if they were asleep. We saw that that was the for they stayed sleep that knows no waking
;

the afternoon. Taking the cover of every natural object, they got behind trees or wagons or mounds of earth so they advanced up to within ioo yards of
like this, quite
still, all
;

our position, and our field of fire not being good, there they found shelter. The underofficer was especially gallant, for he ran to a mount of light soil, laid his glass on the top and closely examined our trenches, with elbows spread upon the top. From time to time he would turn his head to speak to two orderlies who crouched beside him like
spaniels.

The Cheshires

fired

number

of

rounds, but owing to the intervening leaves and branches, they could not get him. I knew him for an under-officer by the shape of his helmet and the sword that hung by his side.

During a

lull

the hospital and found arisen in my absence.

we brought Capt. Mahony to much to do that had


Later on at head-

PREPARING FOR EMERGENCIES


quarters

115

we heard

that the

pied some

cottages,

enemy had occuknown as " Les trois

Sounds of a cold chisel on brick came plainly to us, and we knew quite well what that foreboded, for it is the pet practice of the enemy to knock hunks out of a house
maisons."

them to poke through the nose machine gun and enfilade our trenches. Something had to be done. It meant a bayonet attack at night with all the attendant
wall to enable
of a

horrors of night attacks


tions

for in these opera;

get confused by the darkness they one another as well as the enemy, bayonet they lose their way, they lose their sense of
direction

men

and wander on to enemy trenches.

This would mean much work for me later, so the hospital was cleared and the wounded handed over to the Manchesters' doctor in

The empty hospital was cleaned, Lorgies. fresh straw laid on bloody mattresses, and
was soon ready for the casualties we exBut the situation was not comfortpected. able. As night fell the fighting at Violaines
all

increased in intensity, big high-explosive shells burst with a boom of a thousand thunders in the village. This strange boom, I learnt

soon after, was the shell-burst of the 38-centimetre gun that had just arrived behind La Bassee from Antwerp.

n6 THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


The Cheshires were very weak none of us had supports and if the line gave on our

right,

our flank would be turned. An officer patrol returned with the news that the enemy was in such force that our proposed bayonet " C" Company then fell attack was off. back into the tobacco field that lay in their
rear.

Returning to the hospital we found some tea ready, but I was not without grave misfire givings, so intense was the machine-gun and so unusual these strange explosions on our own front and over all the way to VioThe stretcher-bearers were so exlaines. hausted that we should have to keep for the night any wounded that might come in. In
their dug-out

behind the hospital they lay


All

down
in,

to sleep.
I

was

quiet, save for the

restless

groaning of the

wounded

just

brought

was uneasy and could not sleep. The sense of impending disaster oppressed me, and though we were accustomed to sleep
but

through anything in perfect security behind our infantry, there was an ominous sound in
the rising machine-gun fire. More of the big booming the big shells were falling near the Another visit to headquarters. hospital now. The Divisional Staff were there in the trenches
;

and a retirement was more than probable.

THE HOSPITAL RUSHED


Half-way back the machine-gun
crescendo
;

117

fire

rose in a

German

cheer,

and something

moving on our right against the red glare that was Violaines on fire. There was no
mistaking the spiked helmets. If I did not run for it I should be cut off from the hospital. It was 2 a.m., and the enemy were through and behind and around the hospital. I barred and bolted the door and turned to

wake Thompson. Our only chance in the world was to get out by the back, but the wounded were awake and frightened, and our job was to stay with them. A glance through the back windows showed us the foldyard full of Germans firing
through the windows, charging round the
house.

moments of great mental tension, instinctively and unconsciously, give vocal expression to the strain some cheer, some shout, a few, only a very few, are but the silent, and they for want of breath Germans grunted like pigs. The fear of
All

men,

in

death was on us dissolution, but

all all

the sense of impending the time one was in-

fluenced by the extraordinary grunting noise the enemy made. Then I realised in a flash that we had no Red Cross flag nothing to
;

show that we were a

hospital.

But

still

they

n8 THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


hesitated

came

they feared an ambuscade. They windows that were on both sides of the main room where our wounded It is lay, and fired point blank inside. curious that when the muzzle of a rifle is fired close to a window, not a single pane, but the whole sash falls inside. I dimly wondered fear alone does not at the cause of this
;

close to the

drive completely away the capacity of one's brain for receiving fresh impressions, and

we.

none could have been more frightened than But the glass fell on the wounded and there remained but the shelter of the cellar
for us
all.

Down

the steps

and blocked the foot Then they burst in still quite dark.
;

we dragged them with empty barrels.

How
?

One could they know we could not have blamed them if they had bayoneted us. Again they feared an ambush and would only come to the top of the cellar This, steps, firing at us through the barrels.
were a hospital

But contenting I thought, is the finish themselves with placing a guard on the top of the cellar steps and over the cellar window that opened to the grass outside, they left us. Then came the dawn and they saw the bloodstained dressings, the medical equipment, the It was clearly only a surgical panniers.
!

hospital.

They quieted down and

essayed

A SURRENDER
a journey
I

119

steps to make our surrender. the sentry fired I was very advanced, quickly back and resolved to try the window. If fear of death proclaims the coward, then ail men are cowards but fearing death as they do, there are yet many men who fear

up the

As

more to appear afraid. Only in the imagination of the lady novelist or the war correspondent or those who fight their battles at the
Base, does the
I

man

exist

who knows no

fear.

next tried
cellar

my

luck with the sentry over

the

through.

window, Thompson pushing me My friend the sentry was calm,

and waved to me to come forward. I did not even have to put up my hands. But Thompson was less lucky, for another soldier came round the corner of the house and his bayonet went through Thompson's tunic. The underofficer, a tall man with a very decent face and a large goitre, spoke to me in French told me he had got the stretcher-bearers too. He
;

made me responsible for any attempt at escape. Beyond that, I was free to attend to the wounded and to keep the stove alight.
But he must trouble me for my camera. No German
!

my

field glasses,

loot cigarette cases or

do not from prisoners. money Again, he must ask me to be good enough


soldiers

to precede his search party, to

make

sure the

120

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


lofts

barns and
soldiers.
I

Yes
also

were not hiding armed British I would please go in front


;

would

please

behind me.

And

observe the bayonets took no risks, calling

loudly in every barn so that, if any wounded or stragglers (and men in a bout like this will creep in anywhere) were hiding, he should put up his hands at once. Fortunately the barns and lofts were free, and I could descend to the

stove where
stolid

my

The German
fellows

servant was making tea. soldiers struck me as quiet,

The quite fresh. into the kitchen, easily unguard trooped off shipped their packs on to the floor, took

who were

their helmets

and put on the flat forage caps. were Prussians of the 27th and 120th They Regiments, and they were from the Magdeburg A noise of many feet attracted me, district. and I looked to see a machine gun carried up while twenty-five snipers to the loft above to the tobacco storeroom that overwent looked the deep ditches into which our battalion had retired close to Lorgies. A few tiles knocked out of the roof and the machine gun and snipers were hard at it. Most Then our own businesslike I thought them. and blew away cow guns opened on the farm two of its wings. Now, we had been shelled
;

for

weeks on the enemy side

of the farm,

and

UNDER SHELL FIRE


;

121

the east wing and gateway had been debut our own lyddite was far the stroyed worse. Where a German shell would blow in the whole of one wall of the farm, our own lyddite shell from the 60-pounder would blow in both. Standing in the doorway looking into the foldyard and pretending to be quite calm, I saw the machine-gun party and the snipers drawn up inside the inner wall of the west wing. The shelling had driven them from the roof. Then came a shell both walls were blown in and the Germans hurled across the foldyard. Soon the hospital was filled with German wounded among them, to my the under-ofhcer who never stole regret, money from prisoners. His was a bad brain wound and he was only just alive. Then the shelling grew worse, and we were forced to the cellar, wounded and guard together. But Sergeant Thompson and I disdained the
;

cellar

and adopted what we hoped would appear a nonchalant air. As a matter of fact

safer under the groined ceiling. Soon there was nothing left of our farm but the hospital main room and the cellar these
;

we were

survived owing to the massive stone walls and wooden beams. Then the shelling stopped and the wounded were brought up the stove relighted. again
;

122

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

The wounded Germans were very good. They relied so implicitly on us and were very grateful. Repeatedly one of them said, in French, that he had every confidence in us. But soon this was for a time altered, for two brain cases began to cry out and struggle and call for water and babble of home and domestic things. Why was not I doing something for them ? demanded the new under-omcer, who was now in charge. In vain I said, " It is
delirium,

"

they

do

not

Then why do they cry out

really "
?

feel

pain."

said

my

very

literal inquisitor.

And

very ugly indeed.

My

the guard looked French was not suffiall

cient to enter into detail about the subjective " sensations of pain. See now," I exclaimed
;

"

this

one
it

calls for water,

spits

out.

and he give the morphia I have Regard


I
it
;

injected.

Yes there is one other thing chloroform but the danger is great in such a case see the brains already upon the floor There was only one thing to do with that chloroform we threatening circle round us gave, and prayed they would not stop breathOne of them did, but only for a while. ing. When we had succeeded in sending them to Then bandsleep, the morphia did the rest.
!

'

ages were reapplied, and favour.

we were

restored to

TENDING ENEMY WOUNDED


;

123

The German soldiers again upset the cherished opinion of a lifetime under stress they were not all phlegmatic when wounded they were not always brave and quiet and
;

them, busy firing in the trench quite close, suddenly screamed out loud, threw down his rifle and ran for the hospital and me, with his hands to his face.
stolid.

One

of

A bullet had passed under his chin, through his tongue and out by the open mouth. A reassuring examination, my confident opinion
that he was not about to die, that the wound was not serious, a little morphia, and I was " " lieber Doktor But one thing they again. do not do they do not crave a stimulant, as our men do and make tea on every occasion they munched their bread and cheese and did

not even as much as ask for our tea. This may be partly due to the fact that they suffer less strain, for they did only twelve hours in the trenches and twelve hours in billets in La Bassee, while our men were all their time in the trenches, and we had no supports. That afternoon a young German officer was brought in with a compound fracture of the thigh. He was very open and pleasant, and for a moment I wondered at the courage that allowed the application of the splint without a groan. Then I tested and found

124

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

that his sciatic nerve was severed, and the

absence of pain thereby explained. Three times we had to drag him to the cellar when our guns shelled us again. He also had confidence and good faith in all that we did, and he said so too. Three months later while in a prison camp, a German officer rode past me on the road, returned my salute, looked hard at my face and drew up. " Do you remember," he said, " that officer you looked after at La Bassee ? " " " " " Well Yes," I answered, perfectly will be sorry to hear that he died of you tetanus three weeks after he left you." But my feelings towards Germans had changed,
!
!

did not feel the least bit sorry though, omitted to say so at the time, as far as I remember. That evening our battalion counterI
;

and

attacked, and for a moment so close did their advance progress that we thought we were Unable to conceal our delight we saved. were hustled to the cellar and threatened

with death should we even attempt to make a signal. But it was not to be, and the fire died down. At ten o'clock it was considered safe to get us out of the farm-house and escort us back to La Bassee. The stretcher-bearers carried some wounded, but

STRIPPED
;

125

the Germans in a most callous manner forced even those with their own men to march and thigh wounds, such as we ourselves head

The

would always carry save in great emergencies. escort was very jumpy and anxious to get away, and my protests were disregarded. I have mentioned the first under-ofhcer
held command of our detachment. He a nice fellow with a goitre in his neck was he had been under chloroform more or less all

who

still the ravings of his damaged brain. not forget that before the shell laid him I shall out, he came to see me, after he had seen the way we looked after the first dozen of their

day

to

wounded, giving me back my camera and and thanking us for our field glasses
work.

No

sooner, however, did


officer

we reach La Bassee
our escort and

than an
ordered
;

halted

me and

to be stripped of every bit of this chivalrous fellow strung kit glasses round his shoulder and contemptuously gave

me

my

my

the rest to be divided

among

the escort.

Had

watch, money and other treasures not been hidden inside my riding breeches I should have lost them all.

my

Although I say it, who shouldn't, the German soldier receives very inferior treatment at the hands of his own regimental

126

THE FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES


officer to
I

medical
file

receives.

that which our rank and was soon to meet only too

many
their

of their regimental doctors.

Clad in

becoming long blue coats, very similar to the combatant officer's uniform, they appear to be possessed of the desire of appearing to be more the soldier than the doctor.

When

well out of danger, they discard at every opportunity the huge 8-inch red cross With high shintheir regulations prescribe.

ing black boots of a splendour unimagined in wartime, spurs, sword and revolver, they are quite prepared to meet the brutal and
soldiers of Britain. But, as for attention to their wounded, they do nothing and seem to care nothing, merely giving

licentious

their their

orders

to

dressing orderlies.

To

soil

hands with blood would be to imperil


their stiff linen cuffs.
it

snowy whiteness of Now, I want to make


the

quite clear that

refer to the regimental medical officer, not to the doctors of the field ambulance,

and

who

were of very different stuff. These German regimental doctors, as far as I could see, and from their own admissions, were never within two miles of a firing line, unless all was perfectly safe. They never went out to collect their wounded, but left it all to their armed stretcher-bearers. These

DOCTORS AND BEARERS


latter

127

took their turn with their rifles all day in the trenches, adorned with the Red Cross, and at night went out to look for wounded, still heavily armed. Now this is an indisputable fact, and is borne out by the evidence of very many of our wounded That such stretcher-bearers as prisoners. these would only find the wounded that lay
close to

hand and
without

in sheltered positions, goes

I know Indeed, with them at La from my own experience Bassee that their wounded were for hours often out at night, and they had, on an average, to wait at least twelve hours longer When I for their morphia than our own. of morphia with regard to wounded speak men, I do not wish to convey the impression that our wounded got, save in the rarest exceptions, any morphia from the Germans

almost

saying.

that was far too precious for

"

Schweinhund

Englander." Most important is son, though medical

it

that a responsible per-

officer himself,

should go
if

where

his stretcher-bearers

do

for there are

good and bad stretcher-bearers.

And

the

search for wounded is not systematically laid out by the doctor, he may be certain that some will be left out all night.

CHAPTER
IN

IV

GERMAN HANDS

In La Bass6e I was separated from my wounded and my orderlies and taken to the
dressing station of the 120th regiment, installed in a cafe in the main street of the

town. But there was no sign of camaraderie on the part of my German confreres to me. for in medicine and This puzzled me at first there are supposed to be no frontiers, surgery no international boundaries later on, of I got to know that the German course, doctors and nurses behaved most vilely towards our wounded and prisoners. I was hungry, and I did not mind telling them so. A small steak of horseflesh was
; ;

me and some beer, and was graciously permitted to occupy a corner of a table, over the rest of which a wounded German major sprawled. He finished his meal in silence, rapped his empty beer mug on the table, and said in excellent English, " I am wounded, you see, and by a dum-dum
eventually brought to
I
128

AN ALTERCATION
bullet
I

129
"
!

This what swine you English are denied with heat, and soon we had an Each of them kept repeatexcited audience.
;

ing stories of his personal knowledge of dumdum bullets being discovered on English

and of the wounds which they all prisoners were certain were made by explosive bullets.
;

Out they rushed me to some houses to see the wounds caused by explosive bullets, the existence of which I had denied. They showed me five or six men with big lacerated " Show me my own wounded," exit wounds. " and I can show you the counterpart I said, So to a of every wound like this in them." sure enough, there and, dirty house we went were our English wounded lying on the bare floor, and by great good fortune exhibiting just as bad wounds as those existing among the Germans. Our men were frightened, but
;

were comforted by seeing me. To those who were in dire need, and they were many, I

When I suglast of my morphia. that they might, at least, have matgested tresses, the senior German doctor said, degave the
cidedly, No after all their
!

were lucky to be alive countrymen had done. Back I in the cafe the argument was renewed.
told the

they

able one

wounded major, the only reasonamong them (the less militant and

130

IN

GERMAN HANDS

non-combatant branches of the German service are always the most savage), the reason of all
this talk of

dum-dum

bullets.

All this mis-

understanding about explosive ammunition, I said, lay in the pointed Spitz bullet that we had copied from the Germans themselves. We had no dum-dums they could believe it I had seen hundreds of or not, as they liked. rounds of ammunition poured out on the floor
;

That was no ammunition the order with the English To do the major in hospitals or ambulances. justice, he did not believe it, and said so
of very

many

dressing stations.
;

without

ceremony.

The whole
;

trouble,

went on, lay in the fact that we are using a instead of, as in the most unstable bullet Boer war, using a cylindrical bullet with its
centre of gravity in the centre, we were using a cone-shaped bullet with its centre of gravity
at the base.
this bullet

Contrary to

all

laws of mechanics

was forced to travel point foremost when the base should have gone first, so, when any surface was struck obliquely, the bullet turned and went through sideways. Hence the small entry and the huge lacerated exit wound. The worst offender was the German, this they denied with as it was the smallest

many

oaths
big.

was so

the best, the French bullet that There were, of course, in all

THE ENGLISH RIFLE

131

armies, men who might mutilate a bullet in the savage anger that follows the death of a friend. Yes, in all armies, they assented, except the great and noble army of the

Fatherland " " examine Let us now," said the major, an English rifle, and I will show you how you English have given to your army the means of mutilating these bullets," and he pulled from his pockets three of our cartridges with the tips broken neatly off. An English " " we rifle was produced Now," he said, will get the wounded soldier from the back room to show us the parts of this English
! :

rifle."

And

wounded man
in.

of the Cheshires

Explain the mechanism the private soldier did so. This the breech, that the magazine, this the " " Stop safety catch, and here the cut off " said the major the cut off, and what is it " " 'Taint to cut off intended to cut off ? nothing," said our man, "it's to shut off the

was brought
of this rifle."

"

And

It is clear," he said, that this soldier is lying, for had it been used to shut off the
it.

magazine." "

But the major would not have


"

magazine alone, as one sees


call it

it

the
lie

'

ing to me,

shut off "

'

"

can,

"

why

not
?

And now,"

turnI

what

is

this hole in the cut off

Don't

to me, as the soldier did.

will

132

IN

GERMAN HANDS

show you."

Producing a good English carthe put the point into the hole in the ridge flat metal plate and slammed the cut off home. Lo the tip of the bullet was broken clean off Here was proof most damning and circumstantial. But I had had time to
!

think.

"

The hole

made by the armourer in order to hang them on a string in the armourer's shop."
is

"

in the cut off," I rejoined,

was weak, but it was all I could think of. Afterwards I learnt that it was really the
It

hole.

correct explanation of an apparently useless The English soldier was then produced
again,

demonstration once more gone but he was staunch and swore he through had never seen it used for that purpose or even heard of it. My suggestion that it was a German discovery merely added fuel to the
the
;

flame.

was sent into an inner room and told to sleep with a private soldier on one narrow mattress. Now this would have been conI

sidered a deadly insult to a German officer, many of whom would rather die than sleep

with one of their private soldiers. But I cared for none of these things, and soon we were both asleep. Waking, I reflected that I had had many a more unpleasant bedI had not bathed for three weeks fellow.
;

BEDFELLOWS

133

but he had hardly so much as seen water for three months. Yet the wind is tempered to the shorn lamb in the matter of smells as
well

other things. The end organs of olfactory sense in the nose become blunted by custom, and the smell of unwashed humanity
as

no longer appreciated after a while. Only a drawing-room soldier would have smelt us. All these long unwashed weeks we had often discussed the matter. Why was it we did not smell ? and why had our toe-nails not
is

grown weeks
all

if
?

we had not removed our boots for Be the explanation what it may, we

might have been using lavender bath salts every morning and none of us a whit the
wiser.

Next day a little horse meat was placed for me on a table with the head doctor. He preserved the cold official manner. I did most
of the eating.

Then a

serious conversation

was to be liberated, I was inin ten days and sent to Holland in formed, the meantime I should be required to work in this dressing station and take charge of it. I would, of course, be on parole not to escape during that time. Word had now reached this regimental doctor of how well we had
followed.
I
;

looked after the wounded of his regiment in our farm-house. Gladdened by the news of

134

IN

GERMAN HANDS

impending liberation I would have agreed to anything. So I was sworn, much handshaking, much reiteration of parole d'honneur, the small dark eyes of my interlocutor sternly gazing into mine. All day I was free to work
in that hospital and to take charge of wounded in the row of small houses
sides of the street.

German
on both

casualties
also
all

came

in,

Steadily the stream of were dressed by me, and

the heavily-armed

German

orderly
I

my

gaoler.

Methodically
!

who was examined

German wounded in the houses. What One must admit they a state they were in to their own wounded were almost as brutal But my in La Bassee as they were to ours. wounded English I never saw again they had gone, so I was told. In these houses all the German wounded
the
;

all jumbled together were on mattresses with nothing but their first field dressing on their wounds, and the German first field dressing is a piece of pink boracic lint wrapped a flimsy thing up in a gauze bandage the plain with ours. For food compared
;

soldiers' ration of thick

soup and black bread,

regardless of whether the wound was in the stomach or in the leg. As the brain cases were unconscious, they perforce had to starve

and the bowls

of food beside their mattresses

A GERMAN HOSPITAL
were black with
under-officer,
flies.

135

Here

found

my

nice

quite

unconscious,

and very

near his passing. The wounded lay so thick that there was not room to step between them. Begging for ease from pain, for the necessary " Lieber needs of hospital nursing, calling me " I gave them all the morphia Doktor too I had stolen from the medical stores in the cafe, and did my best, though a poor one. " " Why can't I feel my leg ? said one who spoke English well. And I saw a limb, blue mottled, cold and senseless, telling of the gangrene that had supervened days previously, of the leg that should have been taken off long ago. What could I tell him, but that absence of pain was, at least, a good thing, and I would speak to the head doctor
!

when I saw him ? But the sights and sounds of hospital were not all that I saw from that cafe window.
I

could just see over the top of the curtain,

and even then the passing soldiers knew me and cursed me for an Englishman. On the kerbstones of the pavement was a Jaeger for regiment, resting from their long march had just arrived from Antwerp. Down they
;

the middle of the street rode smart German officers. All day long the regiments passed,
infantry and cavalry, transport and artillery.

136
I

IN

GERMAN HANDS
least,

counted in one day, at

a division of
;

cavalry and four divisions of infantry alone some with the dust of Bruges upon their feet, others muddy from the local trenches, but

marching quickly thousand men, at


days, passing north

to
least,

their
I

billets.

Fifty

saw

in those

two
gait

and south. The infantry with their loose-limbed

were not entirely impressive, very patchy, very footsore, of all sizes and shapes, some marching well under their heavy packs, and others bowed down and walking with a stick. Little difference was noticeable between them and our soldiers. In the rear of each battalion there were very well set up underTo officers, and they saw to all little matters attached eight machine each regiment were and every double company had its guns ambulance wagon. The ambulance wagon took the place of our regimental Maltese cart. There was room in it for four lyingdown cases, and cupboards near the seat
;

for drugs

and

surgical dressings.

And

these

ambulances were empty. To have sore feet is a crime, and there is no extenuation in
the

German army.
;

But my heart sank when I saw their cavalry horses groomed, brass and artillery horses work all shining, the hoofs of the officers*

COMPARISONS

137

I had come from an army chargers blacked. where the horses were all skin and bone and sore backed and foundered, and here were

young animals,
dition.

fresh

and

in excellent conI

How

could one compete,


;

thought,

with such an army as this ? The cavalry were all armed with the lance both Dragoons, with red and white pennants, and the Death's Head Hussars. But all the troopers were so wooden, such bad hands, riding on their
horses'

mouths, rising so stiffly in their saddles. They should have seen our Cavalry we may not of the Fifth Division Brigade have had many horses, but the men could
;

ride.

Back the next afternoon came the regimental medical officer, whom I had replaced. After that, he said, I would no longer be And why had I been in the garden required.
so
often,
?

when
It

had given
;

my

parole

d'honneur

was

clear they did not

me

in

La Bassee

want window-gazing by an
;

English prisoner did not suit the official eye, and the back and it had been reported commanded a view of the trenches I garden had lately left. So with the escort of a wounded man, a volunteer from Magdeburg, Before I left I set out to march to Haisnes. with the head doctor. I had another talk

138

IN
I

GERMAN HANDS
Ah
to
!

Where was
say.
sible
!

Send

going ? a letter

that he could not


soldier
!

England

The wounded German

leg required

amputation ? So but they could not do operations here, many, It was and the field lazarettes were full
!

Imposwhose there were

a long march for me and my escort was waiting Auf wiedersehn ! On the road I was the object of much interest, and the butt of many gibes from " Schweinehunde the regiments on the march.

ears.

Englander!" Black

became quite
looks, too,

familiar to

my

from the passing

escort plainly aghast that I did Taken to report at the big not salute. stationary hospital in Haisnes, I was conofficers,

my

the dining-room and gravely I looked at inspected by the whole mess. one officer remembered, and a the coffee cup of lukewarm fluid was my reward. Then I was marched out again to another village. On the way the deep boom of an unfamiliar gun startled me. Behind a cottage was a

ducted

into

huge gun with a short fat barrel pointing Set up on caterpillar wheels, to the skies. Careit was dragged by a traction engine.
lessly screened

by branches of trees it lay well behind the line, and feared no aeroplane of Yes it was one of the 38-centimetre ours.
!

A BIG GUN

139

guns from Antwerp, said my guide. And I looked again at the thing that had dropped the big shells into Violaines and the garden
of the big attack. a resting place in the house inhabited by an officer of the Divisional train. Standing, we waited until he was seated at supper. All laughed at his sallies. His personal servant, who dared not answer, was the butt of his endless buffoonery. The officer so did we. Finally he rose we to share a heap retired to bed upstairs of

my

hospital

on the night

At

last

we reached

of straw

on the

floor of the

room

in

which

we

fed.

to a Feld Lazarette, which corresponds roughly to our casualty clearing One of the doctors had been at the hospital.
in Dalston. They did not did not know that I was coming. Wiry did not someone send a messenger ? It was quite like home again, and just as irresponsible They let me see the English

Next day a march

German Hospital
:

want me

wounded, and one young soldier I found much disturbed. No word could he gather of last " examination except amputiert," but night's and he thought they were that was enough, about to cut off his leg in sheer vindictiveness. It was quite all right, he said, there was no pain, he was sure it would do well if left alone.

140

IN

GERMAN HANDS

glance was enough to enable me to assure him that if all the College of Surgeons of England were there to see him, could

One

they

no other conclusion. Another case of gangrene from injury to the big vessels of the leg above the knee I left him joint. unhappy but comforted. He was in the Cheshire regiment, too, and had known me before. The surgery I was allowed to see. The surgeons wore gloves and sterile gowns, and some were very human. When I left in a motor ambulance for Douai that evening I felt that I had come across efficiency and
to

come

kindness in one German hospital at least. For forty miles, to Douai, we passed through the French industrial villages and saw everywhere the Divisional trains, ammunition stores and commissariat. The very men, most
probably,

but

who did such dirty work in Belgium, now they were tame all the wine and
;

cognac were long since finished. At Douai, after a long examination at the office of the Commandatur, I was taken to a tiny room at the railway station. The door opened and shut behind me; but there was another occupant, the machine-gun officer of the Dorsets he was taken in

Violaines

in

that last

saw

my

finish too.

dreadful night that small gas stove, one

AT DOUAI

141

table, the bare floor for bed and that was all. An hour later five more scarecrows arrived ;

in their torn tunics, frayed puttees, capless,

with three weeks' beard, they could only be Three of them South LanBritish officers. cashires, two of them from the D. C.L.I. We all taken at lilies on the same night. were thankful, anyhow, to be alone. During
;

the week that

we stayed

in this appalling

room

got quite accustomed to the hard floor. For food we depended on the French Red Cross, kindly and charming ladies, who endured very much at the hands and from the mouths of our sentries, to bring us food.

we

And

Excellent in quality, abundant, well cooked, not since our arrival in France in August had we fed so well.

such food too

Twice a day we looked for them and their cheerful greetings, and we can never be
sufficiently

grateful

for

their

unforgettable

attentions.

We

had no

exercise except

an

occasional walk across the paved yard. The rest of the station buildings were packed

with French civilians and the lavatories were unspeakable. There one day came a curious adventure. In the lavatory a French peasant was standing close beside me. Our sentry had turned away for the moment, when, to

my

astonishment,

my

neighbour spoke in

142

IN

GERMAN HANDS
:

"I'm English without turning his head a French officer disguised, I go to Boulogne if I can send to-night, thence to England news to any of your people give me a letter at six to-night here." Now by chance I had a list of all the names and addresses of the whole seven of us ready for just such an occasion as this in fact, I had intended to a different person. Turning round try quite I pushed against him and thrust the paper He was not a spy as we into his blouse. afterwards had feared, but a good fellow who kept his word. So well did he keep his promise that very soon after we had all " " been reported missing by the War Office our respective families each got a letter from him. It was not till nearly two weeks later at Crefeld that the Germans let us write. It is in the rule the Germans make of not
:

allowing any communication by prisoners when confined or in hospital in occupied territory of France or Belgium, that the " " lies. only hope for the men long missing it is feared that information Apparently

may
an

be carried to England or France.


or

If

officer

man

lies

wounded

in occupied territory, even

in hospital for as long as six

months, he is not allowed to communicate with his people, nor may he receive letters.

CROSS-EXAMINED
Only

143

after prisoners are taken into one of the prison camps in Germany itself are they

allowed to write.

One morning we were all interrogated, singly, in a private room by an officer who
said that he
Office

was

of the staff of the Foreign

Speaking perfect English " he asked me my regiment. A doctor So then why do you wear an artillery button on
! !

in

Berlin.

your tunic
been
lost,

"

My

servant was a Garrison

my buttons having he had given me one of his own. This, I found, was merely to impress me with the profundity of his knowledge and observation for he had already received a report about me from La Bassee. The regiment you were attached to ? But I'd " Let me see," he said pleasantly, forgotten
;
!

artilleryman, and, one of

Shell your memory." shock, no doubt," he remarked with a " smile. Your Brigade and Division ? " Again
I

"if

can't refresh

"

had
"
!

"

forgotten

What

dreadful

and pulling out a chart, marked thing in black and white figures, he showed

me the German Intelligence British Expeditionary Force.

chart

of

the

Army

Corps,

Corps Commanders' names, Divisions, Brigade, even the regiments with their commanding
officers all

neatly printed.

Black and white

144

IN

GERMAN HANDS
artillery,

diamonds represented the


"

oblong

figures the cavalry, squares the " battalions. Let me see now,"

infantry he con-

tinued,

2nd

K.O.S.B.

Ah
;
:

13th Brigade, 5th Division Dorrien, Charles Ferguson


Brigadier."
I

here it is, General Smith!

Cuthbert, your
!

was

And he smirked
you

speechless, he seemed to know it all " at me, as if to say, Now

see what German High Headquarters can do in the matter of intelligence." " There's " that you couldn't nothing in that," I said, get out of any daily paper," but I was most uneasy. Softly, he purred, "So! Your late

colonel

is

now

"

a prisoner.

Yes

at

burg."

Now," he

be able to have did you land in France and where


I

said briskly, we shall a nice chat. When quite

"

Magde-

"

Then
he was

told

him the truth


if

for

it

was

clear

trying to find

troops in " the frontier at Liege. We know everything about the perfidy of the British Government
;

had been any British Belgium before the Germans crossed


there

we found
Brussels.

all

the secret treaties


!

when we took
with the
rapidly
"

Oh

Yes

You were

K.O.S.B.

"It

is

an abominable thing

switched off the other subject that you should use coloured troops against us."

he "

TOWARDS GERMANY

145

But I didn't see why the natives of India should not have a word to say as to the fate It was clear that all of their own country. that was to be settled in France. He wouldn't see it in that light. After seven days at Douai, I was taken

away
off to

to the

Kommandantur and marched

the way, I remember, a French woman offered me chocolate and a boy some cigarettes. My guard threatened

the station.

On

them

savagely,

and they

hesitated,

but

turned and accepted them with thanks.

CHAPTER V
CREFELD
journey from Douai by train to Cologne in unwonted luxury. Instead of the cattle truck that, at this time, was the car de luxe reserved for the transport of wounded British officers, I made the journey on the wooden seats of a third class carriage in the company of my escort, two soldiers of an infantry regiment. Through devastated we passed, and I began, as I looked Belgium upon the fair land destroyed, to believe the

The

was made

whispers of Belgian atrocities which had reached us in the English newspapers as we lay before La Bassee. The attitude of my
escort

was peculiar

later

on

began thor-

oughly to understand it. When the ubiquitous German officer passed through the train and regarded me with an air of studied
ferocity,

the
of

life,

my escort copied his example to and bellowed at me not to look out


carriage

the

threatening cloud of

window but when this German discipline had


;

146

WOUNDED

IN TRAINS

147

passed, they shyly offered me a portion of Even then their black bread and sausage. of the German I noticed that the frightfulness officers and soldiers varied in direct relation to their distance from the trenches. The

away they were from the front, and, judging by their uniforms the less likelihood
further
of

ever having been under fire, the more savage did they appear. So I was not surprised then at the attitude of the doctors and Red Cross nurses, when the engine driver
their

leant out of his cab as


station

we drew up

at each

shouting that Englander gefangener

were on board.

Now, though the hand of the German was heavy on this land, there was order everywhere every Belgian station was a Red Cross depot. No German soldier need get food and drink were out of his carriage to him by young women with huge brought
; ;

red crosses on the bosoms of their white

only of course, by willing hands, and their nursing wants attended to in the little hospital that was the feature of each There were English wounded railway station. too in trucks at the front of the train, but they were allowed to rot in the filthy straw.
dresses.

Wounded men, German


redressed

were

could hear them asking for water and food,

148

CREFELD

and the unfeeling laughter of the crowd that ran to gaze upon so entertaining a spectacle came to me down the platform. I asked to be allowed to go to them, but this was " When I was finally Streng verboten." marched along the train at Cologne, I saw our English wounded lying on the unclean straw
without either food or water, without change of dressing or any nursing conveniences. Fractured thighs I saw with painful, twisted men with shoulder wounds standing legs to save their bodies the torture of the jolt of the stopping train prone figures with
; ;

lacerated brains

snoring into eternity and

unconscious of their fellows' sufferings. Now, horse manure is the most perfect breeding ground for tetanus bacilli, but there was a very kindly Providence that ever looked after our wounded in German hospitals. Our men, alone of all the wounded, received no tetanus antitoxin to protect them, yet they suffered far less from this terror than either German or French. When prisoners' limbs were amputated, often by the surgical amateurs who were held sufficient to practise the art of surgery upon the prisoner, it was the English prisoner who failed to die from shock and secondary haemorrhage.

My

escort,

though

officially

brutal,

were

A MINISTERING ANGEL

149

yet unofficially very kind. They drew the blinds of the carriage when we drew up at a station and hid me, while they asked the gentle
three.

and drink for When this precaution was not taken, the Red Cross attendant would hand in three cups of coffee and three ham sandwiches
;

Red

Cross maiden for food

but catching sight of me in the corner, she would indignantly withdraw one cup and one " " Neinf Englander ! sandwich. with as much ferocity depicted on her countenance
as her inexpressibly
I shall

homely face would

allow.

not forget, too, how one of my escort slept on the rack at night, the other beneath the seat, so that I might have the seat to
myself.

Across the Rhine we slowly steamed, and looked with interest to see the starving women and children, the smokeless factory chimneys, the depression that our papers told us were the results of the naval blockade. But I must have come at the wrong moment, for of starvation I saw no sign the factory
I

chimneys smoked gaily only an enthusiastic crowd of fat and comfortable men and women waved handkerchiefs to the Red Cross ambulance train that was steaming across the bridge
behind us. Arrived in Cologne station,
I

was again

150

CREFELD

interrogated and, for the moment, lodged in the off-duty room of the German station

The atmosphere was hostile, but I sat on a chair and took up a German illustrated paper. At this, with the bellow of an
guard.

outraged bull, the under-omcer leapt up, seized the chair from under me, tore the paper hand, and then taking from his pocket an English soldier's knife, proceeded to give an illustration of the uses to which " the various parts were put. This," point-

from

my

" to cut the throats ing to the big knife, of wounded sons of the Fatherland that," " for the English doctors exhibiting the spike, to gouge out the eyes of the wounded defenders
;

should have heard more interesting explanations had not my escort come for me and marched me out. It should never be forgotten in the years to come, when the sloppy sentimentalists in England begin to find excuses for the enemy, that all this talk of dum-dum bullets, the use of the various implements in Tommy's knife, of the barbarities to German wounded, were the official propaganda of the German Government. Our prisoners at Mons were taunted with these stories, so the Germans must have been well prepared beforehand to expect these brutalities from the English.
of their country."
I

FELLOW PRISONERS

151

I was conducted to a cell opening on to a public subway in the station. There I found a Belgian civilian accused of spying, so he said but he was probably placed there to try to extract information from me. He stank abominably, as did his cell a bucket in the corner was the only sanitary convenience. After one hour he was taken away,
;
;

delight three English officers were brought in two flying men and a fellow in the South Staffords, the battalion that

and to

my

just come from South Africa and formed part of the 7th Division. The flying men had had an interesting experience in a fog.

had

Their engine had failed and they had come down almost on top of a German cavalry then the engine reacted, and they regiment gained the friendly shelter of the fog bank a few hundred feet up. Off they went,
;

the Uhlans pursuing the noise above them in the mist. Then the engine stopped again, " and down they came. You are my
prisoners,"
;

said

an

excited

young

officer

and there was no doubt about it. riding up These two fellows were treated very well so long as they were in the hands of the cavalry regiment that took them. But once
away, they experienced the usual sample of
official

German

Rightfulness

to

prisoners.

152

CREFELD

were hungry and had no food nor any prospect of it. Through the keyhole we were the object of the curiosity of many The guard, I believe, were charging eyes. a small fee to allow half-minute inspections of the mercenaries of that force which the " Kaiser so happily described as the contemptible British Army." The door opened and a resplendent General officer came in. Motioning us to be seated, he looked at us and his contemptuous eyes were full of doubt. " Officers ? So Commissioned officers ? " So And well he might doubt, for we looked ruffians indeed. Dirty, covered with Flanders mud, unshaven, the South Staffords officer without tunic or cap or greatcoat, a transparent oilskin waterproof over his shirt
!
!

We

his

missing

kit

the

spoil

But we were not ashamed and we got it. The inspection over, our General wrapped himself in his nice blue cloak,
to

captors. to ask for food,

of

his

avoid

contamination

with

such

filth,

and departed. Then the train to Crefeld. A short march through the crowded hostile streets, and we were glad to get the safe shelter of the Hussaren Kasernen. The nth Hussar barracks, crowned with barbed wire above the high brick walls, was our resting place, and there we met

MIXED NATIONALITIES
a

153

queer

collection

Allied officers

French Territorial

of

Maubeuge

Russians of

hundred officers from Samsonoff 's Warsaw


six
;

some

Army
upon

Corps, that glorious sacrifice of Russia the altar of a threatened Paris Belgians

from indomitable Liege with their famous General. A hundred British officers were we, and amongst us were representatives of
almost every unit of the British Army. In the barracks we all lived in little rooms, each holding about twelve officers and imIn order that no differential partially mixed. treatment might be suspected, a selection of all nationalities occupied each room. The idea seemed excellent on the face of it and just, but it was designed with a knowledge
that
did.
it

Also

would make all uncomfortable, and it it was to be hoped that it might

among the Allies. It did not do that, though such a condition might
easily

create dissension

have followed.

The English wanted, and insisted upon having, at least one window open, in spite
of their numerical inferiority ; the Russians with every article of clothing piled up and blankets covering their heads, shivered in

extreme discomfort until the abnormal English were asleep. Then surreptitiously, the window would be shut. We woke stifling in the

154

CREFELD

The window opened again, the sons frowst. of Albion slept, while our Allies suffered
torment from the courant d'air that was At exactly three their pet abomination. minutes to eight the assembly bell sounded. A hurried rush to put on clothes, often the

German nightshirt concealed by a greatcoat, a hasty tooth brush in the cold wash-room and then the parade. But we were again at a disadvantage beside our immaculate Allies. The French were at their very smartest they always seemed to a big trousseau with them. The shiniest bring

of boots

adorned their

feet

elegant beards,

Our Belgian friends were very The Russians immaculately smart too. dressed in black top boots and grey overcoats. But we lacked many articles of kit. Our Expeditionary Force had travelled light. Our caps were the chosen spoil of our captors, We were likewise our puttees and tunics. mostly wounded too, and where the blood and necessary cutting had not destroyed
well trimmed.

our tunics, they were badly repaired. Inches of pink leg showed above the boot and below the unbuttoned laces of our riding breeches. Some appeared with civilian caps and overcoats, some unashamedly with a blanket and we were often late for round them
;

IN
parade.

CAMP
set

155
of

We

must have looked a

our well-groomed Allies. vagabonds The only thing that saved us from official reprimand was the fact that we were ina tribute to the contempt in spected last which our gaolers held us. Our Adjutant, Vandeleur, was garbed in the most abombeside
;

inable

little

Belgian

cap

and

overcoat.

in half saluted, military half the ostler's touch of the cap. fashion, But the Commandant was fat and kindlv, and bore us no ill will for our untidi-

He

gravely

ness.

A high brick wall bounded the gravel parade


in the ground where we played football centre of the detached blocks of buildings that formed our dwellings lay a bath house where we had shower baths in detachments. Our food was fairly good, but very plain, and there was a canteen where sardines and buns could be bought. We suffered no but every humiliation, physical cruelty rudeness and insult, on occasion, from the under-officials was heaped upon us. I was lucky, and was given charge of the
; ;

wounded

English

officers

in

the

reserve

In this lazarette, one hundred yards away. hospital there were about fifty of our officers
;

many

in

grave

danger,

all

wounded and

156

CREFELD

abominably neglected, on beds with straw mattresses and coarse linen sheets. There was no nursing, even for the very worst cases nobody but Heinrich, the orderly, who smelt vilely of stale beer and onions, and forgot to return to duty when he went with his Liebe to the town. There was a female
;

Schwester," really no more trained than a ward maid, whose efforts were confined to cleaning the operating-room a resident
as
;

known

"

doctor, plainly showing the unqualified student in every medical and surgical attention that he attempted. But he was kind,

young

doctors were kind. By that they did not ill-treat the wounded, but they made no effort to have the bad cases watched or bathed, or to have any of the rules of nursing applied. Fresh sheets were supplied weekly, if Heinrich's
visiting

and our
kind, I

mean

overnight beer permitted. One young officer, severely ill and in acute pain, suffered everything at the hands of these incompetent orderlies he had not had one bath in the six weeks he had been in the I hospital.
;

was promoted
vision,

to the dressings under superbut not allowed to perform any other medical or surgical treatment. But my most

to change the to give the daily baths in bed, draw-sheet,

useful role

was as the nurse,

HOSPITAL

WORK

157

to sweep away the crumbs that were the torture of a tender back, to guard and protect the prominent bones of painfully wasted hips

against the bed sore that


threat, shifting hair and teeth.
pillows,

was a constant
helpless
fellow,

brushing

One poor

wounded

in the lungs, paid many penalties at first I never quite realised for inexperience.

my

before

how

little

of nursing,
helpless

the

little

the average doctor knows dodges to make the


to

conjure sleep in wakeful nights. Thus employed, I was allowed out in a collection of civilian garments, to walk in the country or even in the town
comfortable,

But I must wear a Red Cross, and a pass. Despite my Teutonic clothes, carry I could not escape recognition, and soon I gave the town a miss and confined my walking
of Crefeld.

The Anglo-Saxon head to the country near. In a country gives its owner so badly away.
where the men are brachycephalic, shortheaded and flat at the back, it is easy to
recognise the dolichocephalic, the long head, the prominent back of the occiput that is

so characteristic of the English skull. But the little boys were very well behaved, curious

but not rude, and they did not throw stones by far the best behaved people in the whole
country.

158
the state of

CREFELD

excellently well done and farm buildings and stock good. The farmers were then sowing their winter wheat, and the rye was two inches above the ground and this in mid-November. The farms were small, only from ioo to 150 acres, and well tilled. These people had also discovered the secret of good arable farming and covered the fallow with plenty of good manure. Liquid was farmyard sewage out in tank carts and generously brought watered on the fields. The farm work was entirely done by women and girls, save that

The farming was

management of horses. All teamster and wagoner work and ploughing were done by old men or half-grown boys. The cabbage crop and the root crops were
entailing

the

then being harvested. In this arable country there were partridges and hares in abundance, and the grey crows that were collecting in the fields preparatory to their winter flight
to Norfolk.

One
usual
;

night the orderlies were noisier than clattering along the corridors so

that sleep was impossible in hospital. Then one burst into my room and read the glad tidings of the loss of the Good Hope and the Monmouth and several other ships at
Coronel.

much

We

would not believe

it,

and yet

GEHEIMRAT ERASMUS
it

159

was the authoritative word

of

German High

Headquarters. Soon a familiar air was heard outside the we could hardly believe hospital windows our ears A group of school children singing " " It was their ironical way Rule Britannia the of cheering up the wounded prisoners local boys' school with their Pan-Germanic headmaster leading them. It seems that this, of all our National songs, hurts the German nation most and fills them with thoughts of hate and fright fulness. It is indeed an arrogant song and full of pain for German naval enthusiasts. We laughed and pretended we did not "mind. But there was when the Falkland no " Rule Britannia
;
!

Island affair became known, only descriptions of fearful odds in fight against a combined
English, French

and Japanese
the

Fleet.

No

description of

reserve

lazarette

would be complete without reference to Erasmus, a well-known surgeon and He would come in consultaa Geheimrat. tion to see our very badly wounded and could sometimes be persuaded to take them to the Civil Hospital, the Krankenhaus, in There they could have some nursing Crefeld. attention and the benefit of Erasmus* own skilful and kindly hands. The nurses at
at Crefeld

160
this
Civil

CREFELD
Hospital,
full

though
of

all

trained in

England, were
bullets,

stories

of

dum-dum

the eyes

of English doctors who of German wounded.

gouged out What can

one do with such a people ? Their medical knowledge alone should have told them that
the operation of gouging out eyes is an anatomical impossibility. It is possible, of Only course, to burst the eye in violence. by very great effort and the use of special instruments and big curved scissors can the

surgeons remove an eye. How then can one explain, except as part of deliberate official propaganda, the suggestion that such an operation could be done with the spike, provided by a thoughtful Government, to remove stones from horses' hoofs ?

most

skilful

It
I

may seem

am

thing, but I feel, and not alone in this way of thinking, that

little

these deliberate official German lies about the spike in the knife, the hole in the cut-off

and dum-dum ammunition have hundreds and hundreds of accounted wounded and unwounded British prisoners being shot in cold blood. Not only that, but the savagery was carried as far as the field hospitals, the Government hospitals and
of our
rifle,

for

the

Roman

man

Catholic hospitals. Many Gerdoctors and nurses avenged their

AN ESCAPE THAT FAILED


our wretched prisoners.

161

country's fancied wrongs on the bodies of

One day tremendous uproar rose in the Hussar barracks an attempt at escape by three Russians. All English, French and Belgians were arrested in their rooms and locked

in the big mess,

and the quarters

of all the

Russian officers rigidly searched. Some Russians were suspected of having a great deal of money secreted about them, hence this but the money was not to be It appears that three Russian officers found were determined to escape. The new canteen manager was a German, speaking Russian well, and of a most sympathetic attitude. Who better than he to assist them ? Yes
rigid inquiry,
!

engaging person would, for a consideration, buy, for prisoners, things outside the "He was sorry camp that were forbidden for prisoners," he said. So convinced were the Russians of the genuine nature of his sorrow that the question of escape was broached. Our sorrowful friend looked grave. " Yes, it might be done, but it would be very " A motor, car So Yes, it expensive." was possible But the officers would underof course, that it was a hanging matter stand, for the chauffeur he must be well paid. He would look about the town of Crefeld.
this
! !
! !

162

CREFELD
!

perhaps 500 roubles would do it." But day by day the price went up until nearly 2,500 roubles was necessary to persuade the
reluctant chauffeur.
civilian clothes provided, coloured too, such as privileged civilians

Yes

they come to
o'clock
!

The money was paid, arm badges wear when the camp on business. Seven
is

The night

dark.

Three

men

in

civilian clothes pass the sentries,

outwardly

The first turning bold, inwardly quaking. to the right, to the right again, here was the car standing and the chauffeur started the
engine

Holland in an hour The passports of Dutch merchants were all ready, there should be no difficulty at the frontier. The car drove through the town and stopped but at the Police Station. Our sorrowing and sympathetic canteen manager was a Three crestfallen officers repolice spy. turned searched in the thorough way Ger!

mans know so well and sent off to a fortress. The Commandant triumphant and the Government richer by 2,500 roubles On November 25th forty French doctors left for France, and we were very hopeful. Every day we English medical officers were told that our turn might come at any moment. One Sunday morning there was unusual bustle in the camp plainly written here
! ;

INSPECTION
the same
" "

163

that is met inspection fever with whenever the senior officer of a district comes to look and see. were to be in-

We

spected by Freiherr von Bissing, then Commanding the 7th Army at Minister, now known in the records of infamy as the Governor of Belgium. He inspected the French, then the Russians, then the Belgians. To to say. all he had condescending things Then came our turn, and at the sight of us " Are these the he halted and bellowed, " officers ? And well might he ask, English for we did look a job lot. Some in uniform, others in half undress, all who had greatcoats in complete undress underneath their
greatcoats.
civilian

Some

in service hats,

some

in
all.

caps,

others

with no

cap at

Some wearing putties and some wearing gaiters, many with pink leg or drawers show"
ing.

One

officer

in

blanket

I he yelled, is the meaning of this ? have seen the French officers, and they are smart, soldierly people. The Russians and and they are as Belgians also have I seen officers should be, but you you are a set
;

"

What,"

He paused, and looking at tramps our Adjutant, who saluted, in ostler fashion, " Who by touching his disreputable cap, are 3^ou, and what are you doing in those
of
!

"

164
clothes
"
?

CREFELD
"I was wounded

at Le Cateau and stripped of everything but my shirt and trousers, by German soldiers," was the very calm reply. " And that officer there, what
is

he doing in a blanket

"

the fellow

who was

in the rear rank.

pointing towards "


I

am

recently wounded,

robbed me of everything. had time to get any new kit."


diers

and the German solI have not Then the

In appearance great von Bissing departed. he was a short man with a very lined face and big bags under his eyes he looked as if he was no stranger to every kind of de;

bauchery and had the marks of vicious living plainly written on his face. Always they hated us worse than the other
prisoners, always they suspected us of contumacy. Nor were they in those days alto-

threaten us with frightfulness in case we misbehaved, a large notice was displayed all over the camp. In this document was mentioned the fact that German doctors, nurses and prisoners had
gether wrong.
if

As

to

been very badly treated in England and


France. Yet, so great was German Kultur, that reprisals would not be taken on us
helpless
prisoners,
for

the

actions

of

our

peoples and Governments. But it behoved us to pay strict obedience to our orders or

FOR MINDEN
to

165

the High German Government would have reconsider its decision. This was the only entertaining thing in the camp. It was

printed in German, French and English and bore Freiherr von Bissing's signature.

But

soon had to leave


for

my
!

hospital,

orders arrived that I

leave, not for Holland, but, alas

lambs in was to for Minden.

CHAPTER
MINDEN

VI

At

the end of November, 1914, four of us departed together, with a fully armed escort,

two bound

for

Minden and two

for Minister.

long weary train journey lay before us, during which we were the cynosure of all
eyes

we

a travelling wild-beast exhibition, if might judge by the attitude of the people.


;

Two

of us

on arriving at Minden found that,

we were not known, not wanted, not expected. There is the same orderly confusion in Germany as in England, the only difference being that in Germany no
as usual,

one

This is infinitely soothing to the authorities and saves a lot of trouble. We slept that night in the hospital with

may

criticise.

some English soldiers who had been wounded at Mons and Le Cateau. They told us dreadful stories of the first two months in German hospitals. Not all survived their
sufferings,

but they agreed that things were


166

THE GERMAN ATTITUDE


a little better now. the roughness of the

167

They complained of German surgeons, but they admitted that, in some ways, they were almost as bad to their own men. I heard German soldiers howling with pain when some
minor but very painful operations were being done on them at this hospital without an To the German mind, suffering anaesthetic. is a test of nobility of character, and the soldier is expected to be hardened to pain. That pain, especially unnecessary pain, has the opposite effect and destroys one's resistance to painful sensations is an established fact in all the world, but it has not yet peneBetrated to the German military surgeon. sides, chloroform is expensive and it takes time to administer it, time that might be
in

spent in walking the fashionable promenades the smart blue cloak that marks the

German

officer.

Our men were very glad to see us, if only for one night, and were sorry to lose us in the morning. The next day we were sent
cab at our own expense fourteen remember. But why should not a marks, He should be prisoner be made to pay ? thankful to be alive This is ever their
off in a
;

attitude.

drive

of

three

or

four

miles,

168

MINDEN

with an armed escort, brought us to our prison camp, situated, as our gaolers told us,

on the

the battle of Minden, where we once fought with the great Frederick against the French.
site of

Minden
prisoners
;

is

camp

containing

15,000

French and Belgian, and a few


English soldiers. Also there confined a number of English
civilians

convalescent

were

here

civilians.

These

were schoolmasters,

teachers, clerks, and men from specialised British industries they were treated like
;

dogs, or perhaps,

more

English soldiers, a flagrant breach of international agreement. They slept with coloured French soldiers, were covered with lice, had no means of

strictly speaking, like This is prisoners of war.

but were extraordinarily cheerful under it all. I must not forget some Kroo boys from the Gold Coast, who gloried in their British nationality. These unfortunates had been taken off British ships in
bathing,

German harbours. The camp was divided into two. Long wooden huts in rows and between them roads dominated by an ostentatious display of out-of-date field guns. The prisoners were
crowded together regardless of sanitary or

FALSE PRETENCES

169

hygienic regulations, their food was abominable and insufficient of clothing they had but that in which they stood. nothing
;

We

two medical officers lived in a small room at the end of the hospital hut. It was fairly comfortable when we had once pasted paper
over the cracks in the thin matchboarding which the huts were constructed. There was usually coal for the stove. We could make tea ourselves, but our midday meal was brought to us by an orderly. In a little room opposite were two Russian doctors, both very charming fellows. The pretext under which our detention here was justified was that thousands upon thousands of English and Russian prisoners captured in recent victories were shortly coming to MindenFor ten days we had no work to do, then we were assigned work under supervision. This
all

of

consisted of attending to the morning sick,

both French and Belgians. We were not allowed to treat or speak to our own wounded, for an English doctor might be capable of

Here we had inducing riot or disturbance an unequalled opportunity of treating liceitch, and all the other diseases that follow in the train of filth and the disregard of
!

sanitary precautions,

170

MINDEN

One morning buying provisions in the canteen, I was approached by a German underthe Assistant Inspector of one of the laagers, a bloated and truculent person.
officer,

Good morning
of Prince

had

seen the latest order

Rupprecht

of

Bavaria

?
!

No more

Quarter English prisoners to be taken alive to be given to the volunteers like the only

London was an

Scottish.

Did
order

I
?

excellent

not agree that it What other fate

could the English mercenaries expect ? Was not the regular Army recruited from the work-

houses and the gaols ? Yes he had lived fourteen years in England, between Bristol
!

part of England, used to play football at one time. Ha the great Tirpitz, how superior to the bungling amateur, Winston Churchill. Soon the noble
;
!

and Bath

knew every

German Navy would blow


I

us from the sea.

listened,

unwilling

to

stop

the words

that

condemned

this swine out of his

own

mouth.

For he had been guilty of gross


;

treachery to the country that had given him a living he and countless others I met in

Germany had eaten our bread and salt for from ten to twenty-five years. This one crime alone is sufficient to put these people beyond
the pale of our hospitality in the future.

GERMAN SURGERY
Among

171

our prisoners was one, a private in the Royal Fusiliers. He had a compound fracture of the humerus, and the arm had been set in an improper way. Vicious union

had taken place and, twice, it had to be broken again. Each morning he would go I heard the stifled to the German doctor. English shouts and walked out to meet him, He was pale and sweaty. " What have they " " I asked been doing to you ? They've been a progging of my arm again," he comNow there were two large unhealed plained. wounds in the arm, and it was clear there was dead bone inside. Daily probing is a it can tell one most unsurgical procedure
;

nothing one did not

know

before

it is

ex-

quisitely painful and introduces fresh organisms into the wound. " " I asked. What do they tell you ? " They tell me to go outside and sing God " Thus did the German save the King.' doctor carry on his little bit of war behind the lines. Suddenly one morning we were hastily summoned to the Kommandatur, and ordered to prepare, immediately, for a journey to
'

Sennelager near Paderborn.

CHAPTER

VII

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


a dirty, wet day, arrived at Sennelager.

On

December

15, 1914,

big prisoners'

we camp

large military training camp was established there. The awkward recruits

with

from the farms and towns of Westphalia were here collected and licked into shape. There were advantages in the combination of camp and barrack on the one hand, the sight and
;

troops intimidated the on the other the daily exhibition prisoners of the captives that spelt their fellow soldiers' prowess, on the Western front, encouraged the

presence of so
;

many

young

idea.

The whole was under the com-

Roodewald. He was lame, halt, blind of one eye, and frequently a lunatic. But he was a veteran of the war of He hated the English with the impotent '70.

mand

of General

fury of the old man, who, though himself far too old to go to the trenches, never tires of declaiming upon the privilege the young
172

RECRUITS

173

soldier has in going to the trenches in Flanders to shed his blood for the glory of the Fatherthe young recruit in these days land.

Now

had

lost quite a bit of his enthusiasm, as the weeks drew closer and his class would be soon

called up.

Early in the war, when he thought everything would be over in a few months, and before his own class could be possibly
called up, the young German had the courage But after his course of trainof seven lions.

ing he found that the idea of shedding his blood for the glory of the Fatherland, in the cold, damp trenches of Flanders, had ceased " Therefore the blood and to attract him. " fury speeches of the General on his departure " " left the young for the accursed Krieg
soldier cold.
I

recruits of

saw none of the savage brutality to which I had so often heard, in my

view of the German barracks system. Infinitely patient, they took their little squads never more than of wide-eyed raw recruits men at a time for the first few days. six
;

They taught them to move their wrists, how to bend the knee, how nature intended the ankle joint to work. We saw it all and very
good
it

was.

Later,

in

platoons

of

half-

companies, they would be out, on the moors or in the barrack squares, learning squad

174
drill,

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


morning, noon and night. Sham fights the darkness, machine - gun courses
;

in

went on. They steadily, remorselessly lived in the big barrack in which four of us medical officers had a room, and very civil and quiet and well-behaved they were. There were no remarks as we passed them on
it

the
it

stairs, politely

making way

for us.

Often

us wonder what there could be in the Prussian machine that made these simple boys the savages they became.

made

Our

first

impressions of Sennelager were

saw it, walking from the Kommandantur, where we were searched, and there I lost all my medical notes. In
most depressing.
protested against the loss of notes made on 1,300 English, French, German, Belgian wounded, that I personally had seen. They contained, I was most gravely informed, evidence of the most damning

We

vain

ever see the records But what were these of my work again. dejected beings we met along the road inside
I

nature of the use of the English. Nor did

dum-dum

bullets

by

camp ? Tall, lean, hungry men in ragged khaki tunics with wisps of thin cotton shirts peeping from the rents in the ragged trousers ; with blue hands and red noses, and white, waxy cheeks wistful eyes hair long and
the
; ;

BRITISH PRISONERS
unkempt, the beards
chins
;

175
their

of

months upon

hatless, save for skull caps made from the lining of khaki pockets. They wore no

boots, but large

wooden

sabots, full of straw,

water and the snow that covered the ground. Wearily they dragged one clumsy sabot after What breed of vagabond was this another. that masqueraded in torn and ragged but " Who still unmistakably British khaki ? " I said to a small group that were are you ? the room that hanging round the canteen German soldiers used for meals and beer and
:

" " And First Life Guards, sir " Battalion Gordon HighFirst you ? " " And you ? " " Third Grenadier landers " What hell was this that turned Guards, sir such men into these scarecrows ? Hopeless,

"

songs.

"

helpless, friendless ; all of them starving,

most

of

them wounded,
;

dragging
sticks or

crippled

many every lousy limbs behind them on

man

home-made crutches. They lived in wooden huts long low buildings with a stove

lying on the floor on straw that were alive with vermin. Two palliasses hundred to a room that should have held
at each

end

Moisture dripped from the roofs all night, upon the palliasses and the that covered the floor. They were blankets
forty.

day and

officially called blankets,

but they were made

176
so

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN

of flannelette, one very thin, the other not

and both unspeakable. Strings thin, stretched across the room bore the garments that had been their shirts. The huts were full of the smell of frowsty humanity. Their the floor, a bowl and spoon their dining-table
for forks and knives were only tableware forbidden lest they should attack their gaolers. The bowl did duty for food and for washing as well. The only water supply for washing a stream that wandered through the camp. This brook contained sewage and filth, but all day long they washed their clothes to kill the lice. Naturally inclined to be clean, were some of our men who stripped and there washed in the stream every morning through that bitter Westphalian winter. The regulation greyback woollen shirt had long ago succumbed to the frequent washings, and had been replaced by a thin cotton shirt some
;
;

even had no shirt at all. They had no bits of drawers, no undervests, no socks and rags were wrapped around their putties The non-commissioned officers were feet.
;

better

off.

They had

slightly

more food
;

they had small messes to themselves they did not have to go on fatigue, and they could keep their clothes and boots and greatcoats. But they were not allowed to have

CAMP HORRORS

177

any executive authority. N.C.O.'s of other and Belgian, were nationalities, French allowed some degree of control over their
but the English were suspect they might have raised rebellion in the camp. There were only 300 overcoats. When we protested we were told that some sold
:

men

their
for

coats.

"

What
"

"
?

we

asked.

did they sell them Bread, and in some cases


reply.

cigarettes,"

was the

Food was given out at 6 a.m., 12 o'clock midday, and 6 p.m. At 6 a.m. a bowl of it was black and hot, and it artificial coffee but it was food. Being made from smelt
;

was certainly devoid there was no danger from it of of caffeine over-indulgence in stimulants. With this was
burnt barley or maize,
;

it

eaten part of yesterday's ration of bread. At 12 midday came soup, usually of potatoes, cabbage or swedes, sometimes thickened with a little barley. At times shreds of meat were visible. There is no doubt that some meat was put into the big soup cauldrons, but the English were farthest from the kitchen,

and the starving French and Belgians had go at it. It was every man for himOnce a week porridge, self in that camp.
first

once a fortnight herring with a

"

roll-mops," half a pickled

little

cucumber

two

half-

178

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


fish
;

herrings to three men.

had

Very occasionally we soup made from salted herring or

dreadful days these, for the smell alone cod would drive the men away. Once a week a little cheese. Often horse beans in hot water formed the bill of fare. Daily the ration of bread, 3 ounces each we measured it eight men to one half-quartern loaf of black bread. Bread was made of rye, wheat and potato flour, always sour, but always greedily devoured by all our men. It was for this bread that they had sold their greatcoats when any had been sold. Supper varied little from the midday meal. Men on fatigue one inch of sausage and one extra piece of got bread, but their dinner was then postponed

until three o'clock in the afternoon.

Fatigue consisted of pushing and pulling

wagons that went to the station to but this was a privilege supplies for the French. Most of our usually kept were told off for six hours' work daily, men road making on the moors in snow and water. But many liked the fatigues, for they were in the open air and vastly preferred anything
large fetch
;

to the smelly camp.

The punishment was of two kinds solitary confinement in cells on bread and water, and tying to a post. The first for such a crime as
;

PUNISHMENT
hesitation

179

to obey the order of a French and any lapse from camp discipline. N.C.O. The second was reserved for minor crimes such as theft of food, an odd potato stolen at
for instance, or falsification of This latter was a fearful crime, and was committed by the men who returned the number of their mess as 10 whereas it was

mealtime,

returns.

really 9

one having gone to hospital. The others would have a gargantuan feast, an extra one-tenth share each of bread or horsebean soup. From two hours up to five hours at a time they were lashed to posts in the camp, their hands tied behind them, their arms encircling the posts that supported the barbed wire. The Westphalian winter was
;

bitterly cold and our men had, in the majority When of cases, no underclothes or boots.
colthey were cut down they were frozen from exhaustion and had to be taken lapsed to the hut that by courtesy was called the
;

hospital.

There were three separate camps at Sennelager, each holding about 4,000 prisoners, for there were about 10,000 French and Belgian Each camp was in addition to our men. with double barbed wire fences, 14 feet ringed high, enclosing an electric high power wire fence. Fortunately none of the prisoners

i8o

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN

suffered from this electrical device, the two chief casualties being the General's dog and a

sentry a simple countryman who touched the wire with his ringer to see if it would work. It did. We were accused by

German

some mysterious

process

of

reasoning

of

responsibility for his death. The system of not employing

our
to

own

N.C.O.'s N.C.O.'s

and giving
frequently

authority

French
friction.

gave

rise

to

in our minds that the sow dissension between the Allies. One of our men, after a wakeful night spent in scratching, had been awakened in the morning by a kick from the French

There was no doubt


authorities tried to

Now our men do not invite lance-corporal. attentions of this kind from any N.C.O.,
not even a Frenchman. So our man rose and beat the disturber of his dreams. He was tried for his life for the crime of striking a senior officer who was deputed with authority by the German High Command, and was doing his sentence of seven months' hard labour when I left. Many of the men were tempted, by offers of food and pay of a few pfennig a day, to go to work on the farms, in factories and in mines. They had, in fact, no for the invitation to volunteer for option, such work amounted to a practical threat.

CAMP AMENITIES
The French were
gentlemen, of
;

181

whom

tractable prisoners the there were many in the

as private soldiers, were delightful charming and very kind to our men.

camp

and

The

rest of the

French prisoners made the best of

a bad job. The General himself would stop on the road and speak to a crippled Frenchman " Misguided man," he would say, "I'm You've given your money to sorry for you. Russia and your men to England, now you've lost both."

"

The Belgians were clever, many of them knew German and filled minor posts in the camp. They were also very good to our men. The Belgian soldiers were very clever in essayFor this they were ing attempts at escape. rewarded with a special uniform, a dark coat with one light blue sleeve and one red sleeve,
a cap half blue, half red.

This garb

made

them always conspicuous. German authority always against our men in every way

discriminated
;

in the

matter

of food, in the question of clothing, in the method and manner of punishment. very

few, French and Belgians only, could get underclothing from the Germans during the

winter of 1914-1915.

In Sennelager was confined with us an Army Chaplain, who remained behind at

182

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


He
his horse, in the Retreat, to a

Butry with the doctor and the wounded.

had given up

dismounted officer, and stayed where he could be of most service. Much he endured during his ministrations among our soldiers, both there and in the railway trucks with wounded men on their way to Germany. In Sennehe was allowed a certain degree of he might visit the various camps liberty with an escort, be allowed out of the and,
lager
;

main
ing

to the neighbourprisoners' laager to go town. He was invaluable to all, for he

bought condensed milk, eggs and oatmeal for


the bad cases. Our men in hospital owed very much indeed to him for the recovery

a they made. To fall seriously ill in such to die unless nourishplace was almost surely There was no ing food could be supplied. obtained from the hospital food to be
special

Germans.

camp were There was no attempt made to appalling. enforce sanitary discipline among prisoners
The
sanitary conditions of the
;

the laws
regarded.

of hygiene

were deliberately disThe sewage of the camp was taken

in leaky iron tubs, and deposited within a hundred yards of the stream above the Now this sewage contained infectious

away

camp.

material

of

typhoid,

bacillary

dysentery,

EPIDEMICS

183

tropical dysentery, and many other diseases. It percolated into the water of the stream

supply of water for washing clothes, persons, or the food bowls. The men themselves suffered from skin diseases
sole

which was the

due to the irritation of lice and itch we had sulphur ointment for the latter diseases, and men could be occasionally marched down to a bath, but this was of little avail when there were no facilities for killing lice and other vermin in clothing or in the palliasses. We medical men protested again and again, without effect. At one time one of our medical officers drew up an excellent working scheme to destroy lice, and for a moment it was provisionally adopted, only to be discarded later on. Nothing was done to re;

place this

vermin,

method of clearing the camp of nor was any other arrangement


in-

instituted.

The camp was swept by almost every


fectious disease
;

scarlet

fever,

pneumonia,

typhoid, dysentery of both kinds, cerebroThe spinal-meningitis, mumps, and measles. vast majority of these diseases were due to
neglect of sanitary There were also a
beri
;

and hygienic precautions. number of cases of berithat nearly every


suffered

afterwards

I learnt

prisoners'

camp

in

Germany

from

184

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


;

this disease.

But the outbreak of this disease was almost entirely due to accident it was due to the rice that formed a good part of the

diet, but chiefly to the conditions under All food which the food was prepared. was cooked by superheated steam, in huge

boilers
vital

this

method destroyed the


in

essential

substances

the

vegetables

and

beri-beri resulted.

The German medical

staff of the hospital

consisted of Eberkind, the head doctor, an the incapable and ignorant administrator
;

surgeon, an alcoholic Pole, either indifferent to, or unfamiliar with the principles of surgery. The physician was a Jew with no force of

character and fearful of contracting infectious diseases, who was yet careful in the diagnosis and treatment of our sick men. As far as he

he tried to help, but being devoid of moral courage, his efforts did not carry him very far. The assistant physician was a Belgian, the son of the Belgian Consul in a neighbouring town. Born and bred and educated in Germany he was in every respect and sentiment a German, yet he came under

was

able,

suspicion, and was alternately employed as a doctor or interned in a Belgian civilian camp.

Nevertheless he was keen and able in his work, and could be trusted to deal reasonably

ROUTINE WORK
with our

185

sick. It was to these two men, the and the Belgian, that we trusted the Jew care of the English on our departure, and we felt sure that they would give them all the

In addition to these attention in their power. there were four German medical students, truculent, and not well grounded in their work. Their chief function was to overlook the work of the prisoners' medical officers,
Russian, French and British, and to obstruct, as far as possible, our treatment. Daily we down to the hospital to see the English went morning sick, two of us to see the surgical,

two to see the medical cases. All our work was of the most elementary character, we were not allowed to do any surgical operations
or to undertake any responsible duty. We were only allowed to give certain harmless we were not allowed to stock medicines
;

admit into hospital or to vary the diet of All this was done by our official patients. superiors, the German doctors and medical
students.
at sick parade, we noticed a very great increase among the sick, and all were were from the Irish regiments.

One morning,

We

furious at

what we thought was an attempt to evade fatigues on so large a scale. We were


always ready, as medical
officers,

to assist

186

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


really unfit to escape fatigue.

men who were

Then an N.C.O. came up to us and said that the men wanted to ask our advice. Late last evening, it appeared, an order had come out
that
all Irish

Roman

in a big

empty

Catholics should parade hut in the camp. There they


;

were addressed by an Irish-American

he

declared that the great heart of noble Germany bled for the men who were forced to
fight for brutal

England.

The High German


were to be
;

Government had,
Irish

therefore, decreed that all


soldiers

Roman

Catholic

removed to a camp at Limburg there they would be better fed and better clothed, and have cigarettes, and in that paradise there would be no fatigues. But the men reported this to the N.C.O.'s and came to see us about it. We, of course, told them that they had to go, it was an order, and there was no choice. But we warned them against any attempt to suborn their allegiance, and we advised the N.C.O.'s to declare their Irish blood and
Catholicism in order to accompany Now very many N.C.O.'s in Irish regiments are not Irish, nor are they Roman Catholics but many of them made the declaration and were included. On my
their

Roman

men.

way back

to England from

Germany

met

my

old Sergeant, a native of Ireland, Irishman

LIMBURG

187

and a Protestant, and his history of their subsequent treatment at Limburg was interesting. They really did get good food and clothes and boots, neither were there any fatigues and though they were sounded by IrishAmericans, there were not more than 30 out of 2,500 who joined the enemy, and these could be told by the obvious favour shown
;

them.
story of the Munster Fusiliers was one of their N.C.O.'s. How at the end of the day at Le Cateau they were
told to

Then the

me by

behind to cover the retreat of their At night the wounded and unbrigade. wounded prisoners were removed to a French chateau and well treated their officers were taken from them. In the morning a General officer addressed them, in English they knew him for a General by his uniform and
left
;

England Germany, England hates the Irish, therefore Germany loves the Irish." He had
:

his staff.

He began

his speech

"

hates

decided, he explained, to keep the Irish at that chateau, and to treat them well. And

they were well looked after, fed on loot from French houses, cognac and red wine. On the tenth day the General returned he announced the fall of Paris and the
;

capture of the English Expeditionary Force,

188

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN

and repeating the usual formula, that the


great heart of noble Germany bled for the sufferings of Ireland under the brutal heel of

England,
intentions.

assured

them of his benevolent The German army, it was ex;

plained, would be honoured to be brigaded with such men for did not the whole world ring with stories of the bravery of Irish soldiers ? He would not ask them to fight for they against the English reinforcements then be fighting against their brothers, might
;

in England's army. But would join the legions of victorious they Hindenburg, he would be delighted. The " Munster Fusiliers merely said Send us

forced to enlist
if

to

English prisoners." Then the General turned and cursed them for ungratejoin the

ful brutes.

And so I found this

Irish regiment

at Sennelager

when I arrived. The Germans tried the same methods with

all but a few who, frightened, denied that they were followers of Islam were sent away first to a camp near Berlin, then in accordance with the German promise, to Turkey. These men were all French Colonial soldiers, and from

the

Mohammedans

at Sennelager

all

that they said


fight

would not

was certain that they against France, no matter


it

how

great the force or the temptation.

SUNDAY VISITORS
No German women were

189

come near the officers' only on Sunday afternoons, when they came to see the wild-beast show from the other side But the medical officers in some of the wire.
camps went to meals
at a canteen in

ever allowed to or men's camps, save

which

German women were


these young

serving.

Occasionally
inclined to be

women would be

in friendly, not exhibiting the spite which In one earlier days they showed towards us.

camp, we

may

call it

medical officers canteen frequented by German soldiers. The young lady there took a violent fancy to one She had lost her of the English prisoners.

Charlemagneburg, four used to go to meals at a

"

Schatz

"

in

the war

and was ready


of the

to
!

replace him, even

by one

hated English

Now this English doctor was round and plump


of a cheerful brightness, so that he filled the gentle Fraulein's requirements in the

and

She hated, she always said, the lean Englishman. He used to talk German to her she would come to the garden
matter of
figure.
;

of the hospital in the evening to continue the

One day she asked him, would he like to escape ? She would bring him civilian clothes the next night and they would
conversation.

go

off

together to her father's farm that lay

close to the

Dutch

frontier.

Once

there, she

190

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN

smugglers' paths across the border, she was more than familiar with the contrabander's trade. What was the good of living so near the frontier, if they did not make use of it ? She would take him to Holland and go with him to England. Now, the fellow

knew the

longed to get away from Germany. For months he had given up hope, and now, here at hand, was the chance of a lifetime. But

what a penalty the girl would have to pay Never again could she come back to Germany. He had his own matrimonial arrangements
!

planned long ago. He could not marry her, and being a very white and perfect knight, he So he recould make no other proposal. But she would not believe luctantly refused. and piqued at his refusal, said that he was afraid. That was not his case by any manner of means, for he got away in uniform, alone the next night, only to be captured on a bridge
that crossed the river.
this

When

got to

know

man, I learnt how much escape from prison meant to him, and I wondered whether there was any German who would hesitate for one moment to secure his own release, no matter what the cost might be to an English

who might be prepared to help him. There were a very large number of surgical cases, the most urgent, perhaps, the large
girl

CAMP HOSPITAL
class

191

of

nerve
of

injuries

paralysis

muscles.

We

with consequent could not per-

suade the surgeon to treat them properly or to allow us to undertake the necessary massage or electrical treatment, or even to send them to the big hospital in Paderborn, where they might have received surgical attention. The
hospital consisted of six rooms, the cubic capacity of each being sufficient for

camp

twenty patients into every one of these rooms were crowded at least seventy
fifteen or
;

men suffering from every variety of infectious There was one ward set aside for disease.
scarlet fever cases, but no attempt Each to secure proper isolation.

was made room was

in charge of Red Cross orderlies of various nationalities under the command of an underofficer.

In these wards the sick and wounded


palliasses placed

lay on straw

on iron beds,

double-decked, one above the other. The most unsuitable cases were grouped together.

Acute pneumonia cases and cases of pul-

monary

tuberculosis lay, side by side, and coughed in each other's faces. It was only to be expected that the resolving cases of

pneumonia developed tuberculosis of the lungs, and the tuberculosis cases pneumonia. Both these diseases in a very bad form were very common.

192

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


;

In the hospital there were no sanitary conveniences, no nursing utensils of any kind men who were actually ill had to go 50 yards in the coldest weather to the latrines. There was only one clinical thermometer in the whole

mouth without any attempt at disinfection. One large bucket in the corner of each room was the only sanitary article. Our men had to bring their lousy blankets with them from the camps and place them on still more verminous palliasses in the hospital they slept and were nursed in their
to
;

camp mouth

this

was passed indiscriminately from

There was no hospital linen whatever, not one sheet or shirt or bed-gown or A man would come into hospital pillow. ill with gravely pneumonia, for instance, and pass the whole weeks of his disease in the same shirt, tunic and trousers, with which he had come out to France four months before. Times without number we would go to see the Chef-Arzt, the head doctor, and politely draw his attention to the high rate of mortality among our men, to the incidence of epidemic diseases. But for our pains we " were met with the vulgar order, Shut your " Get out." jaws." Feeling that we medical officers could not allow our representations to be so comclothes.

GERMAN INDIFFERENCE
We

193

on a protest pletely disregarded, we resolved to higher authority. were, after all, placed in a position of responsibility under
the provisions
of

no matter how
still

Geneva Convention; indifferently the Germans


the

treated that international agreement,


not, sidered

we were

bound by it. We were not, and would in any circumstances whatever, be conto

be

prisoners

of
!

war.

Medical

exempt from that even though have to submit to the same treatthey may ment that is meted out to other prisoners. What would we have to say to the relatives of our men when we got home and the " And what were you question was asked,
officers are

doing

all

this

time to

barbarities

"
?

acquiesce

in

these

Now, concerted action spells mutiny under German martial law, and though not, technically, prisoners of

war we were
I

still

able to

its

provisions.

therefore

amendrew up

a comprehensive

death rate among brought forward evidence to show that it was directly due to the disregard of sanitary
conditions, the lack of hospital equipment, the feeding of the sick and the appallingly verminous condition of our men. The re-

report on the deplorable the British prisoners, and

port predicted outbreaks of typhus fever and

194

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN

cerebro-spinal-meningitis, arising from lice and the lack of hygienic observances. Finally

the letter asked for an inspector to be sent from Miinster, the official headquarters of the Prisoners of War Department, to enI quire into the truth of all these charges. then put it forward, in the proper form, to

the Chef-Arzt for transmission. It should be remembered that, as far as medical and surgical knowledge was concerned, one of us held the Diploma of Public Health of London and was conversant with the whole realm of modern sanitation and hygiene. This officer was also an authority on tropical diseases, such as malaria, dysentery,

and

beri-beri.

Of knowledge of these

special diseases the German doctors, never having been abroad or having the opportunity

of becoming acquainted with their conditions, were absolutely ignorant. The rest of us were better qualified to give opinions in other medical and surgical matters than the
official

German

doctors.
;

The report was presented an outburst of fury and invective followed. Very politely
requested that it should be forwarded. Threats of court martial and condign punishment. After the lapse of a few days it was clear that my request had not been
I

A REPORT

195

I made another formal demand, granted. and they, knowing that I might use the civil post office, if they continued to refuse

the request that

was

entitled
it,

by

my

office

to make, finally forwarded

after a

most

insulting message had been conveyed to me by one of our orderlies who spoke German
fluently.

Two weeks
I I

later

but not as

expected.

came the answer A telegram came


;

from
the
of

Berlin.

was to be sent

to prison in
;

men's
the

camp.
;

No
for

inquiry
I

deemed necessary

no trial had been guilty

criticising German impertinence methods. Then, of course, once medical

of

German High Headquarters had pronounced


the varnish was off the Hun saw him at his worst. Previously and we in a rather anomalous position, a prisoner in fact, yet not technically a prisoner, I had enjoyed in hospital the very slight measure
its

verdict,

of respect that is given by orderlies to prisoners even

German hospital when they are

Kindermann, the acting as medical officers. lazarette inspector, an under-officer, had apparently been waiting for this chance. He using yelled and bellowed and swore at me all the filthy language he had picked up in the gutters of Dusseldorf where he had been the leader of the municipal band before the
;

196
war.

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


German
All the orderlies, the passing soldiers, recruits (the patients even from their beds), collected to see so

the
leapt

The German solinteresting a spectacle. the prisoners were halfdiers applauded


;

Furious, frightened and wholly indignant. I told him what I thought of him, and threatened to report him to the General. Hauled off by sentries with fixed bayonets I was put with French and Belgian soldiers in a hut. Here for three weeks, incredibly lousy, I lived on the men's food and water, and I suffered many things at the hands of the German soldier who was in charge of the hut. Every conceivable insult, indignity, and humiliation were my share. But the exI had never perience was quite worth while. got so close to our men as I did on that
occasion.

Casual, in the matter of saluting before, only to be expected in the state of want and degradation to which they had

been brought by prison life, they were now immaculate in every outward and visible attitude of respect they offered me. Little would be laid on my blanket while presents
I was out, bits of cheese, a sardine wrapped in paper, or half a herring. I would cheerhave done three months for such evifully

dences of kindly feeling.

The Germans were

THE FIRST PARCELS


furious at their failure to humiliate

197

me in the hot with anger, sentry, threatened any who approached me. The French and Belgians were incredibly kind. I made friendships among those men that I A boy in the K.O.S.B. shall always cherish. who had been in Major Chandos Leigh's Company at Mons, crept under the wire at
eyes of our

men.

The

night to steal for me, at great personal risk, some planks from a building near by. A low bed was made and my blanket raised a little above the louse runs on the floor. My servant would crawl in at night, and to
the hut he brought my first parcel from home. We had a tremendous supper that
night.

In February came the first parcels of food and clothes from friends in England, and the change in the condition of the men was

wonderful
that

almost

incredible.

Realising
;

more they had not been forgotten from the tonic effect of remembrance than
from the food received, though the result of English food was priceless, they recovered
their self-respect. Proud, their hunger halfsatisfied for one or two days by the English

food, they gained to


regulations,

cared nothing for the

new heart and German rule.


an

spirit

and

Obedient

they showed

amazing

198

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


The loud talk of months of star-

cheerfulness in captivity. men, now half-fed after

vation, echoed through the huts at night. Like the children of Israel in Babylon they had in the past hung their harps on the

willows and sat

and some
their voices

of

down by strange waters them had wept. But now


;

were raised in story, argument and song, where before there had been nothing but dumb misery. They did not mind now if the war lasted three years more, provided
that

we won.
bitter

the German had to pills could not sow dissension among the Allies and he could no longer break their
swallow.

Two

He

Our men would quarrel with the French, would fight with them, would make up rhymes about them, but there was never bad feeling.
spirit.

I say, in all earnestness, that, with very few exceptions, all the Germans in the camp were harsh and cruel to our men. More

particularly those who had lived, before the war, in England from fifteen to twenty had married English women and years had families, then and now at liberty in
;

England, and enjoying the free life of the country their men were betraying. They

knew

all

Tommy's

tricks

and

his language,

GERMANS FROM ENGLAND

199

and they used the knowledge, gained in England, to bring these Englishmen to punishment. So lacking in any moral courage were they, that they dared not run the risk of being considered to be pro-English. So the more, abused us and were heavy they,

upon us to prove the completeness

of their

German sympathies. The most contemptible trait that Germans show is the lack of moral courage these
;

I do not believe signs of moral cowardice. there is one man in Germany, of fighting There age, who dares to call his soul his own.

not one whose naturally simple and kindly feelings are not overwhelmed by the official orders to be brutal. Only surreptitiously, when they were certain they were not observed, would they unbend and be their natural selves. One mean hound in particular, the under-commandant of one of the
is

camps, and

later,

in charge

of

Stohmuller

Camp, was known to have an English wife and six children in England yet in this
;

there were always many of our men tied to stakes all through the winter. Under the guise of assisting our English chaplain, also a prisoner, in his services, this man

camp

of us

would sometimes ingratiate himself with some all the time we felt he was trying o
;

200
to

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


his position in

make

England secure

after

the war. The Prussian military machine is a relentbut I am not in agreelessly efficient thing ment with the commonly expressed opinion The of my countrymen with regard to it. domination must be broken, Prussian military but we must in a way respect the authors
;

Prussian may fear God and the Kaiser, but he does not fear anything else he is not afraid of us or of any of his enemies, and that is why he does not kill But the Saxons, the Wiirt emprisoners.
of this rule.
;

burgers and, especially, the Bavarians, they are the contemptible people in Germany. They are bound to us by many ties, and yet they dare not show any consideration to

our

men made
;

prisoners

captives. they fear to

They

fear

their

have a disarmed

them. Most of the killing of prisoners has been done by these people, and we should not forget it. The quality of mercy Fear and hate is only found in brave men.

man behind

hand in hand, and savagery attends both. That is why the Bavarian kills his
go
prisoners
;

he

is

nervously afraid that the

wounded captive behind him may have a

bomb

concealed.
I

thankful that

I have many times been was taken prisoner by Prus-

FEAR AND SAVAGERY

201

sians, by men of a certain age, and not by the young officer who kills to show his equanimity in the face of danger. Often, the worst instances of butchery of stretcherbearers and other unarmed prisoners may

be put to the credit of the young

officer of

Bavarian, Wurtemburgian or Saxon Malingering was always in the German eye every prisoner was a gerer until he died or in other ways his illness. The diet in the hospital
;

troops.
official

malin-

proved
or con-

valescent hut
nition
of

was based on

this principle.

Diarrhoea and dysentery diseases, the recog-

which was much dependent on prisoners' statements, were always treated with suspicion. For the first twenty-four hours rice water only was given afterwards water with a little rice. When the prisoner in sheer hunger and desperation, declared his recovery, he was sent back to the heaviest
;

was much concealment


possible

Thus there fatigue in the bitterest weather. of disease, the worst


propagation of epidemics starving men preferred the horsebean or potato soup and black bread with dysentery to rice water in hospital and a
for
;

condition

the

possible cure. When, at last, the expected epidemic of

cerebro-spinal-meningitis broke

out

among

202
our

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


men and
the French, our opinions were "

inoverridden, and it was officially termed When the rash broke fluenza of the head." out, the dislike to light and the coma deve" measles loped, the diagnosis was changed "

was the official with meningial symptoms From the beginning we urged lumverdict. bar puncture to examine the cerebro-spinal
Streng verboten ! But verboten or not, one night we did this operation on one of our men and found the tell-tale cloudy fluid, we strained and found the intracellular diplococcus. Then we took the matter up " Disobedience again with the Chef-Arzt. " of orders he roared. But we were responfluid.
!

urged. Even then but the evidence was he tried to hedge and cases of " meningial overwhelming " Then when the still poured in. measles
sible

medical men,

we

worst was done, and the patients had infected all their companions, the huts were wired in, but no sanitary measures instituted beyond that. Now there was at that time only one proved and successful treatment, the injection of Flexner's serum into the spinal canal. But they would not let us have it. There was, we were told, a German preparation, a vaccine, a different thing but quite as good great and noble Germany
;

SENTRIES

203

did not have to go to America to learn anyThe untried German vaccine failed thing. and the men were doomed to die for the

crime

of

not

reacting

to

official

German

preparations.

As could only be expected, the type of employed as a sentry in prison camps was often so afraid of his charges that he fired at them for any and every breach of If he had the least reason to discipline.
soldier

that a prisoner or prisoners were behaving in a suspicious manner he would One night a poor Frenchman came shoot.
believe

out of his hut to go to the latrine challenged then the sentry, he halted very loudly by he turned and went becoming frightened,
; ;

but an under-officer, then back to his hut on his rounds, pulled out his revolver and
;

shot the

Frenchman dead.
;

There were also at Sennelager about 150 Grimsby fishermen taken with their catches of fish in the early days of the war, they were nevertheless treated as mine-layers. Their heads and beards half shaven they were
dressed in particoloured clothes, half red, half blue, a kind of convict dress. Brought, after suffering many things to Sennelager,

they were treated in all respects as prisonersof-war, with^the one ^exception that they

204

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN

did not do heavy fatigues. One of them was standing in a queue before the camp kitchen holding out his tin bowl for the

midday soup. Whether cigarette was the pretext,

smoking of a or whether the men


his

were not quiet while waiting for their food will not be known. He, however, was standing
quite quietly, when the German sentry hit him over the back of the head with the butt end of his rifle. He dropped and was taken

Here he developed epileptibut in spite of that was sent on fits, When I arrived two fatigue to cut wood. months later he was having from ten to fifteen fits a day, and examination of his
to the hospital.

form

skull

showed a depressed fracture, and that an operation which should have been performed long ago was urgently needed. He was sent away to Paderborn where he disappeared from our knowledge. Now, about February, 1915, the first German wounded arrived from England, unfit
for further service
;

they brought stories of

good treatment and good food. Their only complaint was that they had no black bread and no German sausage. I asked one of our head doctors one day, in the course of conversation, whether the return of these men and their report could not be used to

RETURNED JAEGERS
ameliorate the "

205

condition of our prisoners. " of course the English he said, No," treated our German prisoners well, they are afraid of the avenging wrath of German " Michael if they did otherwise
!

Among

the

German

recruits

who came

to be trained at

Sennelager was a young battalion of Jaegers, well-behaved and welleducated young men. The Jaeger is proud of his corps and draws the same distinction between it and the ordinary infantry regiment as the Rifle Brigade does in England.

After six weeks' training with us they left for the front, full of just before Christmas enthusiasm. Six weeks later they were back 200 again, the remains of the battalion who had left us. No more out of 1,100

They had been up against the songs now and had done well and they brought English back with them packets of Woodbine cigarettes that our men in the trenches had preone packet for each dead Englishsented man buried. This occurred in the days of an informal Christmas truce. They were soldiers and good soldiers too not of the stay-well-behind-the-lines-kind, and they bore no animus against our men. The difference between a German regiment that has been to the trenches and one that
!

206
is

SENNELAGER BEI PADERBORN


training
is

in

very marked.

The

tried

soldier is quiet, he has no inclination to jeer at prisoners, his singing days are over. The

on however, sings all the time the march he is ordered to sing. One can " hear the sergeant-major shouting Singen
recruit,
;

Sie."

And

subjects as a rule

their songs are of simple, homely of home, of peace, of


;

There are, quiet farms, of golden harvests. of course, the more arrogant songs like " " and the " Wacht Deutschland iiber Alles

am
fail

But on the whole one cannot Rhein." to be struck with the quality of the

are melodious, simple, noble subjects. The French and speak " Marseillaise," are trifling songs, barring the but our English songs and often vulgar
verses.
of
;

German songs

are futile "

American rag-time and the odious

Tipperary." If songs be a test of national character, then the German has this much
to his credit.

The

efforts

made by the

authorities

to

impress prisoners with the inexhaustible supply of men were childish but amusing. Each day they would march the training battalion by different roads and in different it uniforms through the camp appeared
;

in

full

marching

order,

in

light

marching

order without the helmet, in linen fatigue

MAKE BELIEVE
dress
;

207
;

but

it

was always the same battalion

and the battalion sang loudly as it passed through the camp. The transport and the machine guns too, came by different roads, but it was the same transport and the same machine guns. We found that out, for the French pasted bits of white paper on the hubs of the wheels. Nor could the Germans
understand the reason for the jeering laughter
that

greeted the

exhibition
It

of

their

well-

known wagons. man method


;

For might
write

it

a part of Gerorderly, well-reasoned out. not be that the prisoners would


all

was

and thereby bring their recalcitrant Governments to heel ? The censor would see to it that no such reference would be erased from French
of

home

these

endless

soldiers,

or English letters.

Then on March
me.
I

6,

1915,

came

orders for

was released from prison and taken to Giietersloh, an officers' camp, about twenty
miles away.

CHAPTER

VIII

GUETERSLOH
the outskirts of this little town, lying almost at the foot of the Teutoburger Wald, and chiefly renowned for its beer and sausages, a half-finished lunatic asylum. There, is

On

within a high barbed-wire fence,

is

an

officers'

prisoners camp, containing nearly 1,000 officers in all ; about 400 Russian, 450 French, 75

60 English. The Russians, contrary to our preconceived idea of their mastery of tongues, do not speak any language but their own as a rule. They are very well built men, but they show melancholy in their faces. To hear Russians talking together is to think that they are on the point of tears. There is sadness in their music. Far and away the most artistic of all our
Belgians
fellow prisoners, they play every instrument of music, sing very well, are devoted to

and

some of them painted very well indeed. But they were restless under confinement, more easily depressed
religious exercises, while
208

COMRADES IN MISFORTUNE
by bad news and most
for escape.
fertile in

209

expedients
for the

The French were depressed

also,

number of them who were gay and light-hearted. The


most part, though there were a
French territorial officer, with wife and family and an established business, naturally takes confinement badly. The English on the other hand being less complex and less highly
organised,
fully.

We

bore their captivity very cheerare truly the most sane nation

in

Europe. If there was any insanity in connection with our prison camps in Germany, it was to be found among our gaolers,
not

among ourselves. The Belgians were very good


;

friends

of

ours

were

cheerful

in

wonderful

way,

and played our games, and played them very


well too.

Representatives of all nationalities were mixed together in the separate houses that formed this prison. They agreed very But the French well indeed, on the whole. were at times annoyed that the Russian steam
roller, as it

was

called,

should

roll

backwards

The Russians, for their part, fident that it was the sacrifice

felt

quite conof the Warsaw

Army

irritation

in moments of saved Paris would ask if it were true, they as the last three months' reports had said,

that

210

GUETERSLOH
!

that the French were still attacking Souchez There was a feeling of resentment between

the
felt

the former Belgians and the French that their Gallic neighbours had left them
;

in the lurch, while they were holding up the German advance at Liege. But all this

was merely superficial below the surface mutual respect and a determination not lay to allow the Germans to sow dissension between us.
;

Strange as it may seem, the English were the most popular of all nationalities in the
not that there was any particular charm about us, but all realised that we, as a country, were fulfilling our share of war ; that we, alone of all the Allies, were a plus

camp

quality, had lost no territory, had swept the seas and captured German colonies.

English, though numerically small, were the dominant factor in the camp. This was pain and grief to the Germans, and they
retaliated

The

by

disciplinary measures, inflicted

on all prisoners indiscriminately, but intended to hit the English in particular. The English seemed to initiate everything ; the games,
the tea in the afternoon, the international tea parties that cemented friendships and smoothed away misunderstandings, the regulations for the use of the baths, the physical

"MENS SANA"
exercises,

211

the right that every Englishman had to keep his window open at night, regardBut the less of the shivers of his Allies. English were all so cheerful and so sane.

To be depressed
into

or melancholic

was to play

the

enemies'

hands.

In

irresponsible fidence into

way, we seemed
;

our casual, to instil conIt

our fellow prisoners.

was

and in many ways we could pure selfishness how abominably offensive we, understand as a nation, could be in other circumstances. The English never indulged in pointless speculations as to the probable duration of the war. We always maintained that it and that we must would be a long war make the best of it. Not that we knew for certain whether the war would be short
;

or long.

But we did know that the short

war was the German war, that all Germany wanted this war to finish, that the German
soldiers

hated the idea of another winter campaign. Our attitude caused alarm and
consternation "

among the German


;

sentries.
'

Why

you was the very frequent question of soldiers " and sentries about the German camp. Oh, we shall want it for next that's all right winter, the summer following and the winter
;

so permanent a tennis court is it that it should for years last ? construct

212
after

GUETERSLOH
that,"

we would

carelessly

Though they hated


in their hearts,

us, yet

reply believed us they


1

and a settled gloom filled their faces. If what the hated English said was there would be another winter in the true, Hans and Fritz had, up till now, trenches.
successfully

dodged the obligation of fighting, and found that the less dangerous task of guarding prisoners amply fulfilled their milidread thought They tary aspirations. Oh would not be able to evade active service much longer. The rheumatism, the loose cartilage in the knee, the weak heart could
!
!

not be expected indefinitely to deceive the For the doctors, and their turn would come. the last average German soldier hates war in the world he wants to do is to go to thing the trenches. He was comfortable, married, and his job was good before the war. On every side the universal question to us was as to the probable termination of this dreadful Not that this prevented them struggle. from making excellent soldiers when they did eventually get to the trenches. Always they
;

How was it that the Allies, questioned us, after being so decisively beaten, did not seem " to realise it ? Not that they thought that official Government reports were wrong they were always right. Did they not put satis;

"

ENEMY REFLEXIONS

213

fying postscripts to the disquieting bulletins, " The English report is clearly a such as, lie ; and is intended to bolster up the failing courage of our chief enemy. Reference to the
will

report of German High Headquarters show how much truth there is in this " It was the English, lying statement ?
official

the stiff-necked race that

hid behind the

sheltering strip of sea, who were the object of their hate ; the English merchant who did

not fight himself and


business.

still

carried
!

on his

high the freights were How rich their fat rival was getting rising in comfort on his English office stool,Sitting while the German merchant, in the trenches
the prices obtained
! !

Ten thousand

devils

how

How

or looking after prisoners, plated his ruined business.

nightly contem-

How

us

with

who
and

In impotent rage they filled articles against England, the traitors fought with Frenchmen and Russians,

they hated their papers

The kept business going as usual. merchant was the chief object of hate ; English no wonder the submarine was so popular. But with all this hatred concentrated upon England, even the Germans showed a certain degree of respect for us in a way. We always we were never obeyed reasonable orders late for parade. We would get the same
;

214

GUETERSLOH

punishment as other prisoners, but it was seldom the necessity arose in our case. On one occasion some of the French and
Russians came late for parade they had to sleep, and we were all apparently gone kept waiting for twenty minutes on the sand of the parade ground. The Commandant was angry, and gave vocal expression to his rage ; his displeasure was conveyed to the under-ofhcers, they in turn visited it upon the prisoners but even that did not produce the sleeping Russians. Now, the English were always placed in the rear of the other companies, and their inspection took place last of all the prisoners, as if to show them their proper place in the estimation of their gaolers. Cigarettes were lighted by some of us our Allies, also tired of waiting, copied our example. A perfect crescendo of yells and barks issued from the Commandant French and Russians were hauled up before
; ;
;

him and summarily given three days in prison for daring to smoke on parade. But our treatment was different. The interpreter came down to us saying that the Commandant had asked him whether he thought that the
" I told him," English officers were smoking. " said the interpreter, that I was sure that British officers never smoked on parade
'
!

"

THE CONTINENTAL TIMES


and
spring,

"

215

All the winter lager

both at Senne-

and Guetersloh, The Continental Times, a

vile rag printed first in English, subsequently in Russian as well, was published free, and distributed to the prisoners. It purported to be a neutral newspaper published for the

Americans in Europe. Every page with extracts from speeches and of Ramsay Macdonald, Philip Snowwritings den, Roger Casement and a certain coterie of dons at Cambridge. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, too, wrote of the triumph of German culture and the degeneracy of the
benefit of

was

filled

country that had given him birth. Much ingenuity was displayed in publishing the lie that contained a It was, grain of truth. of course, obviously a German Government and deceive paper, intended to impress
neutrals
of

and depress
it

proof were wanted,


advertisements.

If only one prisoners. was in the tiny column

It
;

was

clear

that

the*

paper was subsidized for, in Germany, the advertisements had to pay for the increased
cost of paper.

The Russians in Giietersloh made a wellplanned and organised attempt at escape. Their leader was a very able officer, speaking German fluently. Long grey Russian coats were cut down and altered to resemble

216

GUETERSLOH
;

German tunics boots, ment were mysteriously

caps and equipobtained. One wet

February evening a file of German soldiers, under an officer, marched across the parade ground to the prison gate. The sentry on duty at the gate presented arms, and the The officer little detachment passed through. turned and cursed the sentry for his slackness That was sufficient, all doubt in saluting. none but a faded from the sentry's mind German officer would curse a soldier with such
;

a flow of language. Better not report it, thought the sentry, so he said no word about
it

when the

relief

came.

That night, seven


little

little

bundles of clothes in seven

beds.
their

Not strange that they should have


heads
covered
!

so

many

Russians

sleep

like that

The house porter made


morning,

his rounds,

satisfied that all his charges

bed.

Next

were safe and in sixteen hours later,

came

discovery.

from the would have a fit, he was so purple with rage the sentry and the house porter immediately were included in the next draft for the All trenches. games for prisoners were no smoking allowed in the houses stopped breakfast half an hour earlier. As usual,
; ;

pandemonium of yells Commandant, who, we hoped,

the punishment

fell

upon the English.

They

ATTEMPTS AT ESCAPE
all
;

217

but they, though totally played games in ignorance of the plot, would cheerfully have suffered ten times the punishment,
if

these sporting Russians could win their way, in safety, to Holland. There was no
pursuit
;

the Germans are far too wise, and have much better use for their men than to chase prisoners. It is simpler and more
bridges
as
effective to stop the roads, the river and canal ; anyway, the line of sentries on the

frontier

would

as

easily

arrest

prisoners

For over a week these fellows braved hunger, thirst and cold good in February in the wet bushes of the Teutoburger Wald. Within five kilometres of the frontier one fell into a quarry and broke his leg. They must leave him, he insisted, and get on He would shout and attract attention later on. Given cigarettes and a water bottle he would be quite happy.
deserters.
!

German

No foolish chivalry, making a litter out of branches, will carry the poor wretch the five kilometres to safety. Fatal delay the
! !

precious

hour
patrol

wanted
their

gave

the

German
!

Halt and chance. they fly for their lives into the undergrowth, A fusillade and their leader shot dead the woods scoured, and the others recaptured
;

mounted

and brought back

in

triumph to Giietersloh.

218
Solitary

GUETERSLOH
their lot,

confinement for a week or two and then a fortress from which there will be no more escaping. At one camp in Germany it shall be nameless the tale is told of another attempt

was

at escape, also engineered by Russians. The sentries up till now were unconscious of sleepy

the burrowing moles beneath. Then a sentry, recovering from a wound, arrived.

new

He

from Flanders, and knew all about and countermining. For him the mining " " beneath his sentry box in pick pick

was

fresh

The

the silent night only too surely tells the story. clods of earth finally give way, and a

Russian head appears. The first man helps his comrades out to meet a ring of smiling German faces around the hole. Too fertile in expedients for escape are these Russians and English and the fortress has more
;

visitors until the

war

is

over.

The
with

interpreter in Giietersloh
;

in the grass

was a snake he spoke a mixture of English


"
slang.
I

American

know England

you do," he used to say. We had no doubt of that. The representative of a German business house in England has every excuse to wander round the country why not make a little pocket money from a
better than
;

grateful

Government, when the English are

AN INTERPRETER

219

such fools and spying is so safe ? He used to put facetious comments, all in execrable
taste, in the letters we received from home, and remarks in the private letters that
officers

wrote from Giietersloh to their wives Rotund and oleaginous, he apat home. to be trying to make his position in peared England secure again when the war should be over. Jovial and hearty, he was suspected
fairly good grounds of having a Scottish The most warlike of high wife in Aberdeen.

on

knee boots clothed his shapeless nether limbs. Many a letter of ours he destroyed of that I have only too certain evidence. He used to get Punch and the Daily Mail we might see the cover and the dates, no more. Afterwards, it became clear to the returned prisoners that some of the fits of
;

rage that the Commandant indulged in coincided with the more pointed of Punch's None of us excellent jests and cartoons. wish to limit Punch's fun out of conwould
sideration for possible reprisals on ourselves. The outbursts of anger were harmless, and we were convinced that the Germans would

not hurt us very much for our country's In all the German periodicals there papers. was fury, not at all suppressed, at the English comic papers. We all felt convinced that

220

GUETERSLOH
hit the Germans on a very sore spot. a particularly biting picture appeared, average Prussian family having its

Punch

When " An
our

morning hate," we were punished by having deck chairs confiscated. The English alone had these luxuries, bought at great expense from the German canteen. But the Commandant was very touchy one morning " I will not have the lazy English prisoners
:

deck chairs, while the sons of the Fatherland are bleeding in the trenches," he remarked. But those chairs were restored
lolling in

month later. The higher in rank the German officer, the more loudly he shouts at
a

they have no sense of personal in this matter, and believe in the value dignity of noise to point their orders. he hated
his
;

men

How

and how we cherished that hatred What a compliment to the English and all that we were doing in the war We read all the German papers, and they were full of English news at least twous
! ! !

thirds of every edition consisted of articles

dealing with England, her share in the war, and the speeches of her Ministers. They

never omitted anything in the more important speeches made by our responsible Ministers but they cleverly took the sting out of them
;

for

the benefit of the

German

public,

by

HATRED OF BRITAIN
contrasting
of other English politicians, as far as the unenlightened

221

them with the unwise speeches

who might be, German masses

were concerned, of as great importance as the


Cabinet. Always great attention was paid his speech to all that Lord Kitchener said on the treatment of English prisoners did
;

more good to us in Germany than any other Whenever a strong speech was made effort.

by an English Minister, the Berliner Tageblatt " How can would point out in a foot-note, the German people now doubt that England that her desire is to is our chief enemy Read these English speeches us ? humiliate and understand that no peace can be made
;

with this nation of pirates." But there were other articles in the papers,
too,

some by

"

by "a
public

high These were all


opinion.

neutral diplomatists," others authority at the Vatican."


feelers

to test the pulse of

They would suggest that should be restored, that Poland be Belgium given up, and wait to see the storm of indignation that followed in the Press. But there was always the conviction, all through Germany, and noted often in the periodicals,
that in spite of undoubted German victories, the German armies had never gained the decisive strategical or political victory that

222

GUETERSLOH

should have been their reward. Often they longed for the genius of a Napoleon to have snatched the ultimate decision of victory. But all their leaders feared to take the
gambler's risk and win or lose it all. Do not let us forget, in the contemplation of our own national mistakes, and their name is legion, that the Germans have made blunders too. One cannot too often insist that the German blunders were epoch-making. Four stand out as decisive in this war. If any one of these four mistakes had not been committed, the war would have been over and France overwhelmed. A defeated France, and as the Kolnische Zeitung says, " what better lever could we have to extort con-

from England ? Germany has lost the war four times and she knows it Our military methods were a constant
cessions
!

"

puzzle to the authorities in Giietersloh. How could an Irishman, for example, be an officer in the East Kent regiment, an Englishman in the Scottish Borderers ? Who ever heard of a Wiirtemberger an officer in a Prussian
battalion
?

There was only one punishment in Germany for all offences or crimes, and that was
to

go to the Krieg." Was it burglary, disobedience of orders, attempts to bigamy,

"

"DER KRIEG"
malinger,

223

suspicion of being a that a sentry was kind Socialist, a suggestion to prisoners, and the sentence was the same. The fear the elderly Landsturm had of the

the merest

trenches and the war kept a silent tongue and strict discipline in all men of military age. Only the aged and the women dared to

and they, as in all countries, were complain most vindictive towards their enemies. The Iron Cross distinction has, unfortunand ately, drawn a great deal of spiteful
;

ungenerous comment in England. It is a very distinguished order, and loses none of distinction by being somewhat freely its bestowed. There are several classes of the
Iron Cross
tion

are

the higher grades of this decoragiven to successful diplomatists,


;

General Officers in high command and many But the Iron other hardly worthy people. Cross, as we understand it, of the lowest class is given to every soldier of a battalion that

For instance, distinguishes itself in action. one whole division of the German Army which
stormed the Zwinin Ridge in the Carpathians and turned the hitherto successful advance of the Russian Army into defeat, was decorated.

that every

The German Government presumes man in Germany does his duty


;

to his country

but

it

draws a very

fine

224
distinction

GUETERSLOH
risks his life

between the man who does his and the man who does his duty, draws big pay and enjoys war bonuses in safety. The latter, I need hardly

duty and

say, does not get the Iron Cross. infantry in the trenches, the men

But the

who win

the fight and pay the price, they get it, and if they do conspicuously well, they get another Iron Cross of a higher order as well. The incidence, the bestowal and the multiplicity of our decorations makes one wish for the juster and more simple German plan. The regiment to which I was attached in

France has

still

who were
fighting

at

some officers and men left Mons and have been in all the

Every such officer, N.C.O. and man has earned a war decoration ten but their names do not appear times over
since.
;

in the

honours

battalion
ago.

list. In Germany the whole would have been decorated long

There was an officer in Giietersloh who, on occasion, appeared to be quite a human He was the head doctor, and had person. returned from the States to Germany at the he had been captured by outbreak of war an English cruiser, while a passenger on an Italian ship, and released in virtue of his age. Placed in medical charge of the camp, he
;

A KINDLY OFFICIAL
;

225

proved very kind to our officers in an official way but even he was overwhelmed by the Prussian machine. To me he was good, allowing me to work in the hospital and to look after our own officers. The English medical officers at Guetersloh were not perall mitted, as a rule, to work in hospital the work was done by French, Belgian and Russian doctors under the orders of this
;

German surgeon. But even when we would be talking of America or even of medical subjects, his attitude would undergo a complete change, if his orderlies were near. Naturally an exceedingly kind and able surgeon, he dared not show his character, but had to
adopt a formal, official brusqueness in the presence of his men. When we left Guetersloh he dared not come to see us off, as he would have liked to do but he merely waved his hand behind the curtain of his bedroom window. How such a man, whose loyalty to Germany was above any breath of suspicion, could have allowed his natural courtesy to be over-ridden by the want of moral courage to risk the fear of being misunderstood, it was hard to understand. He was the kindest man I met in the whole of Germany, and he would look after our officers well, when the time came for us doctors to go.
;

226

GUETERSLOH

One day, on parade, the interpreter asked whether any of us who had influential friends in England would give him our names. For this strange request we asked his reason. There was none, it was an order given to him perhaps it was to improve the condi;

of the prisoners. But we suspected some Schweinerei ; and determined not to commit ourselves to any course that would

tion

enable distinctions of any kind to be

between

us.

"

" have so many influential friends swered, that it would be a matter of difficulty to decide a point like this." In three days' time we discovered the reason. The German

All British officers,"

made we an-

Government was determined on

reprisals

to punish us for the differentiation in the matter of treatment of submarine men and

other sailor prisoners in England. Three of our officers were chosen, two of them being of Guard regiments. They were taken to
Cologne, to the military prison, for six weeks, No talking no half an hour's exercise in the smoking For the first three days prison yard daily.

with solitary confinement.


;

they were devoured by bugs, until the Commandant gave orders to have the cells washed
in
paraffin.

All

reprisals

on prisoners are

futile

and contemptible.

When we

enter

A NEW: DRAFT

227

into a competition in reprisals with Germany, one can very soon see who is going to win.

Anyhow,

it

is

an unkind thing to

visit one's

on helpless captives. kind to prisoners. There was always


excitement in the
of
soldiers

disapproval of certain conditions of warfare One cannot be too


a
certain

degree

of

camp when a new


oft

draft

to the trenches. The address them in his best " How fortunate they to fire-eating style. be about to spill their blood in the trenches

went

Commandant would

Contrast their position with his Unable, by the infirmities of age, to die for his country on the fields of glory." He threw his useless sword upon the parade ground, after one such harangue, and forgot all about it when he was lifted on to his white horse. The subsequent procession, with the local brass band, was halted until his senile wits could remember what he had done with it, and an orderly could be despatched to pick it But the draft did not in the least want up. to spill their blood on the field of glory. We knew that very well, for one of them was a house porter in one of the buildings and he implored us to say that the war would soon be over. But we did not like his way with us in the past, and I fear that we could give
!

223

GUETERSLOH

him but very

cold comfort, pointing out the privileges of being allowed to die a hero's death, much in the same way as did the Commandant. Nor was it long before he

found the special Valhalla that is reserved for German warriors. For in ten da}^s' time we heard that he had met death in Flanders.
long blue cloak with its high dark-blue collar, is a very even the deficiencies of the splendid person
officer in his
;

The German

Teutonic figure are gracefully hidden beneath its folds. The broad beam, the champagnebottle thighs are well obscured. His shapeless are encased in the most hideous of gaiters. legs Nothing English or well fitting about them, for they are almost cylindrical in shape they are not made to fit the wearer, but are manufactured, by order, of the comfortable roominess that sturdy Teuton legs demand.
;

The German
better
It is

officer's

cap

is

lighter

and

far

made and designed than our own.

in the front

constructed of soft stuff and rises well above the peak. But the German
officer
is

cavalry
gaiters

often

and English field fortably wide and shapely riding breeches. For obvious reasons one cannot write fully
of prisoners'

found in English boots, with com-

camps

war

continues.

in Germany Much has to be

whilst the

suppressed

PARCELS
for the sake of the unfortunates

229

who

remain.

We were all convinced that there would be no more reprisals, nor any fear that prisoners would be shot, provided our own Government
continued
to as
treat
it

German
at

prisoners,

in

Only if present. England, of which there were great social upheavals, we saw no sign whatever, did we think that there was any fear of our parcels of food being confiscated. The German Post Office is the best thing in the country, and after
the
first

does

three
if

months we
well
is

felt

that nearly

every parcel,
destination.

There

addressed, reached its a very genuine pride


resent,

among

the Germans in the excellence of their


;

Post Office

and they would

most

strongly, any suggestion that they might be guilty of such a contemptible act as to steal

parcels of prisoners' food.

Towards the end

some, perhaps all, The other officers to be returned to England. in Guetersloh heard of it with mixed feelings partly of sorrow that they were losing us and
;

June we got news that the medical officers were


of

their only bulwark in case of illness partly of great gladness that we were really to be
;

free.

They came to see us off when the morning arrived and sat with us at breakfast, but not to eat. We did all the eating. They

230

GUETERSLOH

were too sad to think of food just then, and their eyes in some cases were not innocent of
tears.

On

our

way we

to collect the N.C.O.'s

foregathered at Sennelager and men of the R.A.M.C.

and to pick up other medical officers. The conditions there were much better than at
the time of my departure some four months before. Sanitation and hygiene had so much improved that the fear of epidemic diseases

was largely over. Baths were regularly given to our men, and they had ovens in which to
bake their clothes. A great cloud had lifted from that unhappy camp. For, far worse than the horrors of war is the daily dodging
of the destroying Angel within relentless barbed-wire fences, when death, in the form of typhus or cerebro-spinal-meningitis, claims
its

daily toll of victims.

The
;

fact that

no

one can get out of the camp the knowledge the that nothing is being done to relieve in the fight with lice, the ubihelplessness quitous hosts of these dread diseases all
;

these

constitute
all

the

terror

that

stalked

the prisoners' camps in Germany. through The body louse is not only the host of the special organism that gives rise to typhus, but the eggs themselves are infected and the disease is transmitted to the eggs and three

SENNELAGER REVISITED

231

It was easier generations of successive lice. for the medical officers to bear than for the men, for the doctors had so much work to

too busy they to worry over the pain in the back of the neck, that was the dread As for the men, they had only to signal. wait the turn that took them raving to the
;

do

But biological discoveries are made hospital. in prisoners' camps with regard to lice and
their destruction.

lager were

many

In the sandy soil of Senneant heaps, and it was found


insects

that

the

enterprising

would hunt

carefully through shirts spread out the ground near their nests and carry upon off the louse and her eggs in triumph. At Sennelager, while looking from the windows of the hut in which we were confined, I noticed strange and unfamiliar badges

most

on the shoulders of passing British soldiers. " " was one, and I Fifth Western Cavalry knew I had met at last the Canadians of whom we had heard so much. A word to the sergeant-major, and all Canadians (and there were eighty of them) were paraded at
night
sentry,
in

one

of

the
I

huts.

Slipping

the

after

dark,

went

round to see

them,
All
of

and such good fellows the}/ were. of them had been wounded and most them gassed as well. They wanted Q

232

GUETERSLOH

in the barbed- wire fence.

nothing in this world but a gun and a hole They were proud

that they had done so well, and told


their

me

of

progress

many. on the train their wounds had been dressed, and food and water given. Kitchener's speech had caused a radical alteration. They told me how the German soldiers came to see
;

Gerthrough Belgium had not been badly treated They


into

the

"

Red Indians

"

whom the British Govern;

ment had brought from Canada how the Germans found white men and not the skins and features that they had expected. " Why " did you take a hand in the war ? the Germans asked for this unity of our Empire was a thing they could not understand. Even the position of Ireland was, to them,
;

a thing incomprehensible. So the progress of these Canadians into Germany was almost a triumph and bore nothing of disgrace.
I

looked at every
I

healed.

wound and most were Every name was recorded, and it


did so
;

was well that

from the Canadian Red Cross Society in London I found that only ten per cent, of their men had been reported officially by the German Government. Accordingly seventy names were telegraphed to Ottawa and taken from
for

the

list

of

"

"

missing

that

most

dread-

REPATRIATION
ful

233
casualties

of

all

the

columns

of

in

war.

were all surprised that, as we were soon to leave Germany, no effort was made to tinge this part of our journey with the pleasant recollections that last so long. But the Germans were thorough, even now, and the medical officers were put to sleep in empty huts, on straw mattresses again in the train, too, we had the well-remembered
so
;

Now we

third-class

wooden seats and railway cattle trucks to sit and sleep upon. A most disagreeable under-ofhcer came in charge of us. But at Brussels, how great the difference
!

After a bowl of good soup, strawberries were and, as the ambulance train brought to us steamed in, we medical officers found first;

compartments reserved for our comfort. The wounded were put between sheets poor devils who had not seen a sheet for eleven months All was immaculate and clean. The frontier reached, the explanation became clear for the kindly Dutch exclaimed at the sight of officers and men being done so well, in such a train, and in such linen sheets
class

We

did not hesitate, however, to

tell

them

that this was

German

"

"

eyewash
at sea,

for neutrals.

We

reached Flushing at night, and in the

morning we were well

watching four

234

GUETERSLOH

of our destroyers sweeping up to the German coast. Midday saw us at Tilbmy, and

Home

once more.

CHAPTER IX
HOME
Chief among the many things that made our return to England dear to us was curiosity as to the state of the country, of which we had heard so much in Germany. How was
it

with the England that we knew before the war ? How had she lasted under the strain ?

Was
that

it

true, as the Kolnische Zeitung said,

England was covered with contemptible posters calling on men to fight, that there was in the United Kingdom a condition of moral compulsion that was no whit different from the obligatory services in Germany ? That every man in England seemed to be busy persuading the other
all

fellow of his

duty to
still

cians

were

at

enlist that the politithe same old game of


;

trying to make political capital out of the nation's difficulties ? They declared that

every fool had still the right to air his folly, even in such a time of crisis as this. Did the Hannoverische, ever the most savage of our
235

236
critics,
tell

HOME
the truth
in

when

it

declared that

young men

England, of great possessions, first families in the land, were evading their duties ? They were
the elder sons of the

wearing uniforms, certainly, said this critic, but they were finding sheltered jobs on the Staff or as A.D.C's. to Generals of the various commands. There was no lack, so the paper said, of young men trying to obtain commissions in the Army Service Corps and the

Ordnance Corps, in reserve Cavalry Regiments,


in the
ent,
it

home
of

service battalions.

How
;

differ-

pointed out, the great German houses they always held that great expectations and
sons
great
lities

from the attitude

of the

possessions
in

entailed
for

great

responsibi-

them. Such young fighting officers, in Germany, were to be found in the infantry in the front line and not in

positions of security. Was the Berliner Tageblatt right when it said that the Church of Rome was against

the Allies, and had decided in favour of the Central Powers ; that the priests and the Sinn Feiners had stopped Irish recruiting, in spite of all that Redmond did or said ;
that

the
full

much-advertised
of
its
;

Irish

were

had done

Englishmen duty in the matter

that

regiments Scotland
;

of recruiting

THE GERMAN VIEW


; ;

237

that Wales that England was a poor second that the homes Ireland were nowhere and
of

Elizabethan times, English chivalry Devon and Cornwall, were dead to the call of duty, but that the East Coast and the " North were sound ? That in fact the Teutonic parts of the United Kingdom, the Germanic elements in the population," had a sense of national responsibility, while the Celtic elements had none ? They repeated the lap-dog legend. The smart young women
in

of England, they said, had their arms full the of Pekinese, but their nurseries empty
;

women of the working urged their husbands to join the army so that they might enjoy the separation allowances. These things and countless others we had read in the German Press and we wondered whether any of them were true. It was not necessary to be home any length of time before one realised that the " " had been provided intelligent neutral basis on which to build with just a sufficient an indictment that allowed his prejudice
classes

doing violence to his For the rest, it was necesconscience. to avoid the pitfalls into which the sary German critic or his neutral informant
full

play

without

had

fallen

generalisation

from

particular

238
instances.

HOME

Perhaps there were young men whose object seemed to be to get into the uniform of an officer somehow, and then, this end gained, they appeared to adopt the attitude that they had done all that was

Perhaps the men of England do not wear a sense of duty and obligation on their sleeve in Germany, we were told,
necessary.
;

it

is

a national

trait.

The Tages Zeitung

had said that there were many military "nuts" to be seen; too many in the less reputable districts of London late at night. The Provost-Marshal, we had heard, was a " very busy man, and the term temporary " had become a word of very gentleman
reproach. All this, as representing a phase, may be true but it did not affect the record of the trenches, "nuts" included;
;

common

and no German who has had experience of the fighting qualities of our men at the front will be tempted to lay much stress on the
shortcomings which loomed so large in the eyes of his stay-at-home countrymen. But there was one splendid effect of the war, that even the Berliner Tageblatt drew attention to it was to be seen on all sides, in the casualty lists. The Gerespecially
;

man

Press always gave us credit for pub-

lishing

our

losses

in

full.

This

war had

FOR KING AND EMPIRE


drawn
all

239

Englishmen from

far

countries

home again. the German

What
nation

could point better to the need for Colonial

How much to be preferred possessions? to the non-expansionist policy that had buried so many sons of Germany in the
United States sheep (and one
!

All the black


critic

and piebald
degenerate

said that
of these)

had come England provided many back to the fold in the crisis, many of them now gathered into that great and splendid The fold from which there is no straying. " " no-good Englishman, and I knew him well in Canada, had come home from the ends of the earth to serve, and by his ultimate
sacrifice

there to expiate the crime of un-

adaptability. In the German papers there were learned x l. icles, too, about the future of their race,
as to

the nation was to be compensated young and strong males. It was suggested that the State should take
for the loss of the

how

care

of

the

children

born

to

unmarried

women

in the war, provide a

weekly pension

for the mothers,

and a husband out of the lists, in order that no social stigma casualty might remain attached. The increased proportion of male over female children had been noticed, and was expected to become

240
still

HOME
more marked.

Wounds,

illness

and ex-

haustion, nervous and physical, it was said, so reduced the dominance of the males that

the females became prepotent, and an increase in the birth rate of boys resulted.

were curious to see how the young officer of the new Armies would turn out. The Germans always held that this would be the weak spot in what was known as
Kitchener's Army. sary for
officer's
full

We

It

is

absolutely neces-

an

officer
;

mind

that he should have an he must be brave, have

and of his responsiThe officers of the Expeditionary Force had been of so high a quality that it
a sense of duty,
bilities.

would, of necessity, be difficult to follow them. To be brave is essential, but this does not necessarily mean not to be afraid of death if that is a test of courage, then
;

all

men

are

cowards.
fear
of

But he who leads


of

must have more


afraid than

appearing to be death itself. He must not

be too young, for youth, though very splendid and careless of danger, is irresponsibleYouth wins the Military Cross, but youth

may

also neglect to visit his sentries.

Nor

must a combatant officer be too old, for in " " this modern life nerves come to the man of forty-five, and war and sudden death

MILITARY AGE

241

are the supreme tests of mental organisation. There is no room for neurasthenics in the
front

trenches.

And
;

with

age,

so

often,

comes the crystallised brain that receives the thickening of no new impressions
cerebral blood-vessels that

thought impossible in tumult of battles. There can be

makes reasoned the actual noise and


little

doubt

that the young officer of Kitchener's

Army

in so far as he has been tested has in the

majority of cases made good. The record of the campaign, the testimony of his superiors are witness to the fact.

my being taken prior not long enough or wide enough prisoner was to entitle me to pass judgment on the conditions obtaining in the war as a whole. In those early days some of us were tempted to think that never had there been a war in which religion as a great emotional factor had been so completely absent. There were
to

And what of own experience

religion in

this

war

My

abundant evidences
the
field.

of

God, everywhere in

One could
endurance

see

Him
;

in the blessed

relief

that morphia gives


of

in the limit to

human
reached
;

in

the
;

so quickly pain, merciful euthanasia that


;

in the bullet that missed precedes death in the tetanus that passed our prisoners by

242
in
;

HOME

Germany in the blunders that the Germans committed. To what extent did our
Church interpret these things

for us, and so us in this fight ? Some of us missed help the stern Old Testament teaching and the type of Cromwell's military chaplains. In

their

place

seemed to

figure

prominently

Bishops and leading

dignitaries

more

filled

with the doctrine of humility than with the righteous anger that should have thundered from the pulpit making excuses for the
;

enemy

too tolerant of evil


I

turning the

other cheek.

leave

it

to others to decide

whether there was any foundation for this view, and, if so, whether as the war has progressed, the conditions have changed. In Germany the Lutheran and the Catholic Church had been organised for war, just as
if

every other department in the State. There, you wished, you could find the Old Testament reincarnated in the war bigotry,
;

religious fervour, sacrifice, this attitude of their religious


;

fanaticism.

But

instructors

was a great help in the land and sent the young men out to war as young men should The Roman Catholic Church in Gergo. many was Catholic only in name. English

Roman
ingly
of

Catholic

prisoners

received

grudg-

the

comforts of religion.

One

of

RELIGION AND THE WAR 243 my fellow medical officers, a Roman Catholic,
asked in vain to see the
priest.

The French
indifferent

and Belgian

officers,

men who were

to religion before the war, found, as they so often said, that they had need of spiritual

support.
of

What an opportunity the Church has missed The men of France and Belgium ready and willing to return to Mother Church, but definitely restrained by the alleged political leanings of the Vatican. France, once the elder daughter of the Church, has been hurt and is not ready to

Rome

forgive.

argued that, as a war economy, the abolition of the military chaplain is advisable. It may be doubted whether the consensus of military opinion, as a result of this war, would endorse this view. A
I
it

have heard

good parson, and there are good and bad ones, as there are good and bad doctors, can radiate the right and proper spirit for
take with him to war. He can do no end of good, if he is full of faith
a soldier to

and

of the righteousness of the cause

of a

cheerful countenance

when

things are bad.


;

his regiment he must be with his men in the trenches nor should he fail to impress upon his men that, in this
;

But he must be with

war, they are fighting for a cause that

God

244

HOME

would wish them to uphold. Let him teach hatred to the enemy now, and not forgiveness until the war is over and right triumphant.
In part of its theory, at least, the Tages for this war has been a Zeitung was right triumph for the blonde races of humanity. It is, indeed, the day of the fair-haired and blue-eyed men. The more pigment a man has in his skin, the less able does he seem Rifle fire, machine guns to stand shell fire. the dark men will face, but not the long ordeal of high explosives. The nervous organisation of a man is the test in this war. And in the dark races it seems as if their nerves are nearer the surface. All the
;

coloured troops of every army have shown this. The only exception is the Turk, but he will be ready himself to admit that our
shelling in Gallipoli

was not

effective.

Even

naval guns failed in their effect, both moral and material, as their fire was direct and not high-angle. But there is one
the big
fact that the Tages Zeitung failed to recognise ; and here, without doubt, lies the

explanation of the dominant position occupied by the blonde races. The education of the dark peoples of this earth is, as a rule, much inferior to that enjoyed by the fair. Education confers self-control and a

"

TOMMY "
it

245

sense of duty. This firm in the trenches.

is

that keeps a

man

Superstition

and panic

go hand

in hand.

Self-reliance

marches with

knowledge and education. What do we think of Tommy ? we are often asked. Is he not a wonderful person, so happy, always exhibiting the irrepressible gaiety for which he is now world-famed ? If the truth be told, in spite of the no journalists, there is no joy in battle fierce delight in conflict, no happiness, no But gaiety in the trenches under fire. the one splendid, precious thing in con;

nection with war

is

the high sense of duty


officers

that

takes

men and

back

again,

time after time, when skrimshanking is so easy. Tommy wonderful ? Of course he is wonderful he is the most wonderful thing in the world when he belongs to the infantry of the line. What does his country mean to him that he should make this offering of
;

his life

Is
it ?

it

worth the

sacrifice

Who

can doubt

is often asked whether doctors do not hardened with all the casualties they get " " see. If by hardened is meant that we have no time for sentimentality, no time to " Poor fellow does it hurt ? say, only " time to ask, Where are you hit ? let me
'
!

One

246
help you
;

HOME
open your mouth, and
I'll

put

these tablets on your tongue/' then all of us are hard as stone. If to eat our beef and
biscuit with

hands
;

all

bloody

is

to be hard-

ened, then

we

are hard indeed.

But we are
;

not really hard no one is hard we are and know that there only very practical are things such as death and fallen comrades, of which we do not speak. We lose some members of our mess at the next meal we draw our seats still closer, have more
;

was
of

rations to eat, perhaps two eggs where one all our share before. But the names

the
It
is

departed

are

not

mentioned

any

more.
natural to look upon a regimental dressing station or hospital as the most But pitifully miserable place in the world. it is not so, certainly not in a dressing station when the wounded have had tea and morphia and are warm. The only place where happiness dwells is in a hospital. And the

reason of this extraordinary spirit does not, as some cynic would say, lie in the fact that, the men are wounded and therefore out of the war for a few months. No it is in the
!

sacrifice

these

men have made


that
is

the duty

done, the

wound

the receipt, stamped

and signed upon

their bodies,

from God and

SACRIFICE
;

247

That explains the wonderful their country. the good spirits cheeriness of the blinded
of

men who have lost their limbs. And this idea of sacrifice is the
;

oldest in
full of it.

the world
in

the Old Testament

is

those days, used to make burnt Men, offerings, used to give something to God. Now we only approach God to ask for somefor absolution for help in trouble thing when we fear that death in battle may over; ;

take us.
sacrifice

But wounded men have laid their upon the altar and it has been accepted. There is not the same cheerfulness in the medical wards of a hospital. Enteric and dysentery cases, even when convalescent, are not so happy. They have made a sacrifice too but no more than a non-combatant might and they have not
;

the receipt to show.


essentially a masculine occupation the idea of woman as the complement of our
is
;

War

lives

From

She is no more necessary. the moment of going out to battle, as far as active service troops are concerned, and until the rest behind the lines or the well-earned leave is taken, the idea of woman
vanishes.
as

woman

is

conscious

of

non-existent. fatigue, of hunger,


dull

We

are
of

only

heavy
R

packs, of the

misery of the trenches,

248

HOME

billets we yearn for. That is why we, the righting troops, could never understand the stories of plunder and Belgian atrocities. So far as we were concerned, we had so much to carry in our packs, that we could not have carried even minted gold as loot. We were far too tired to have given even one thought to the women of the towns we occupied, save and except that women meant, usually, fires burning and food cooking. We inferred that all the crimes against women that were committed in Belgium were at the hands of the Transport, the Commissariat the less militant branches of the Army. They alone were not tired, were dragged by

and the

weary

horses,

had

sufficient to eat

and always

a place in which to sleep.

Wyman

& Sons

Ltd., Printers,

London and Reading, England.

THE NEW ARMY ON THE SOMME


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in
little

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He

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THE PANGERMAN
PLOT UNMASKED
Berlin's formidable peace trap of the

drawn war.

Andre Cheradame.
With an Introduction by
famous French
writer,

Translated by

By Lady Frazer.

The Earl of Cromer, O.M.


who
has for

A
a

many

years

made

special study of Pan-Germanism, here lays bare the principal

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The

Glasgow Herald says

"The

present reviewer, having read and re-read the work

in the original,

recommends

all his

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not indeed purloin, what in

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the most

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side."

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BEAST
A
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Editor of The Field.

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peace

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spirit,

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P'rench

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of

old

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France."

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the study of

"
:

Few

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The Daily News


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"
:

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MY YEAR
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at

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th e

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it

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]

55
THE LIBRARY UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
Santa Barbara

THIS BOOK

IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE STAMPED BELOW.

Series 9482

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